India is set to surpass the United States to become the world’s second-largest internet user base by December this year, next only to China.
India is set to surpass the United States to become the world’s second-largest internet user base by December this year, next only to China. Propelled by increasing smartphone sales, the internet user base in the country has grown 30% year-on-year, a report by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International said on Wednesday.
Total number of Indian internet users are set to grow to 302 million by December according to the report. More than 60% of the country’s online population access internet through mobile phones. China has more than 600 million internet users.
The IAMAI report stated that India had 159 million mobile internet users in October, a figure that is estimated to reach 173 million by the end of December. The country is now adding five million new internet users every month — connecting only through mobile devices. Half of the country’s internet population access the medium only through mobile.
According to the report, the internet users in rural India constituted a third of country’s online population and is growing at 39% to reach 101 million in October this year. The number of internet users in urban India has grown by 29% from October 2013 to reach 177 million in October 2014.
While it took more than a decade for the number of internet users to move from 10 million to 100 million, the country’s internet population exploded over the past three years from 100 to 200 million.
Search was the most important use of internet followed by online communication — fuelled by messenger apps — and social networking in that order, the report added. However, in rural India, entertainment is the primary reason for internet usage, followed by communication and social networking.
Experts say that the explosive growth in mobile internet usage has fuelled massive valuation for India’s e-commerce companies that now have 50% of its consumers coming through mobile platform. The growth has also given a fillip to country’s startup and product ecosystem. Facebook counts India as one its biggest markets in terms of potential growth. Google has also launched its cheaper Android One platform in India.
Rajan Anandan, Google India managing director, told FE: “This rapid growth in the mobile ecosystem is now impacting every segment of the internet in India. Search, social, video, local, messaging, gaming and e-commerce are all being deeply impacted by mobile. It is creating unprecedented opportunity for mobile-first startups in India — both building products for India as well as those “born in India and instantly global.”