In Asia, the information and communication technologies (ICT) sector continues to expand, and it has undergone much change in recent years. Although the US and the EU have the largest share of global ICT research and development capacity, their share is declining. South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and of late, India and China are fast catching up.

Asian government policies are adapting to promote clusters of innovation. ICT infrastructure is being upgraded throughout the region, and policies being implemented include those on interconnection, mobile phone base stations, licensing, and competition management.

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Asian consumers have been important, as demand driven by music, entertainment, and telecommunications, is boosted by macro factors like rising disposable incomes, urbanisation, and growing mobile Internet connectivity.

Nine Asian nations are among the top 20 countries with the highest number of internet users in the world and it is notable that Asia remains the world's largest mobile phone market. In 2009 mobile phone subscriptions in the region represented 46.0% of the world's total subscriptions. Euromonitor reports that Asia’s consumer spending on communications is projected to grow from $405bn in 2009 to $815bn by 2015.

Furthermore manufacturers continue to focus on ICT equipment, devices and electronic components. High tech (HT) exports in Asia is at around 27% of global exports, making the ICT industry highly competitive.

With businesses placing a greater emphasis on the use of contact centres, the contact centre market in Asia earned revenues of $665.4m in 2007 and Frost & Sullivan estimates this will grow by a 10.2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to $13.1bn by 2014. Except for the Philippines, almost all other Asian countries saw contact centres increasing their investments on equipment and applications to improve customer interaction services.

The Asia system integration (SI) market continues to grow, and this bodes well for both system integrators and software resellers. By 2012, IDC expects the Asian (excluding Japan) consulting and SI market to increase from $13.47bn to $22.58bn with a CAGR of 9.1% between 2007 and 2012.

Lawrence Yeo is CEO of AsiaBIZ Strategy, a Singapore-based consultancy that provides Asia market research and investment/trade promotion services. E-mail: Lawrence@asiabizstrategy.com