“As is the case almost everywhere in the world today, mobile use is the big story in India’s digital scene, with 590 million people – almost half the country’s population – now owning a mobile device of some description,” wrote Simon Kemp on We Are Social blog at the release of Global Digital Statshot, August 2015.
He further writes, “Mobile subscriptions in India stand at 976 million, and with this figure climbing at a rate of roughly 3.5 new subscriptions every second, we fully expect that subscriptions will exceed 1 billion before the end of 2015.”
According to the report, India only has an Internet penetration of 27% i.e. 350 million out of 1,285 million total population. However there has been a positive growth of 44% during the period of August, 2015. Mobile, which is gradually becoming the primary screen for Indians, has seen a growth of 5%.
Earlier this year, the influential Mary Meeker report in its annual assessment of the Internet economy highlighted that 65% of Indian Internet traffic is dominated by mobile. The report also stated that India with 232 million Internet users – a 37% year-on-year growth happens to be the third largest market. India also happens to be the top country in adding new Internet users per year, it added more than 63 million in 2014. Mobile is the primary reason for driving the new internet users dominated mostly by Tier 2 and 3 cities.
Mobile competing with web in terms of time spent on media has already overtaken average daily television viewing time of Internet users. The below data shows a significant shift.
India which is going through a digital evolution is also being led by mobile. According to the report out of 350 million internet users across all devices, 159 million i.e. 45% of all Internet users are accessing the medium by mobile devices.
Mobile is definitely opening up gates of the Internet for first time users in the country but web still rules. Share of webpages served by laptops and desktops account to 66% whereas mobile stands at 33% year on year. It is interesting to note that even though web holds the ground, it is seeing -6% fall year on year, whereas mobile is witnessing a positive growth of 17%.
Answer to the positive growth of mobile’s share of web pages served lies in the speed of accessing the data. Average mobile Internet connections i.e. 2.8 Mbps is driving better speed than fixed line which still considers 2.3 Mbps as the best average. Additionally, 19% mobile internet connections are broadband, compared to just 10% of the fixed connections.
Recently, the search giant Google said search queries from mobile devices from India was now more than desktop driven queries, up from less than 25 percent in the second half of 2013, because of affordable smartphones and data prices. Google said the surge in mobile queries in India was supported by strong smartphone sales, estimated at close to six million every month.
Social media- yet to witness a penetration of more than 10% - is also being spiked by mobile. For instance Facebook the most popular social network that has more than 124 million monthly active users, is driving its growth story on mobile, globally and in India too. The March, 2015 data states that 89 million users accessed Facebook via smartphone followed by 17 million feature phone users.
Social networking also happens to be the most regular mobile activity followed by uploading photos and watching videos.
However, the latest State of Mobile Advertising report by Opera Mediaworks reported that in India mobile users are visiting more sites and apps in the Music, Video, Media & Entertainment and the Technology & Computing categories than the average global user.
Mobile, which by next quarter would be denoted as smartphones, are driving the digital growth and economy in the country. Ecommerce which is quickly evolving into mobile commerce is already aggressively competing with web, the below data shows the growth.
However, at the same time it is true that roughly 1 in 7 people in India live in areas without any cellular phone reception. Operators and governments will have to invest in creating better mobile internet infrastructure before the rural areas explode with device proliferation and take over urban areas. We missed the bus during the web revolution, we can’t repeat the same mistake with mobile.