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Indians are lapping up the internet like never before, but who’s complaining?

500 million and counting…

This is the expected number of internet users the country will have in 2018

It’s quite literally the start of the digital era in India!

Not only has internet usage increased, even the way it is accessed has undergone a radical change.

An estimated 80% people in the country access internet on their mobile phones. With over 470 million mobile internet users, India the already the second largest online market in the world after China

The last two years have been phenomenal for the country. Affordable internet connectivity and declining smartphones prices have ushered in a mobile internet revolution that is only growing bigger.

Urban India, the first to jump on the bandwagon, saw an almost 19% growth last year leading to an estimated 280 million mobile internet users. Rural India, on the other hand, saw a 15% growth.

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Deciphering the Mobile Internet Landscape

Youngsters in India are driving the mobile internet revolution. They continue to be the biggest consumers in both urban and rural areas. Within that, the age group of 15-24 is the most active, drawn largely to social media and other entertainment platforms like Youtube.

While Urban India primarily uses mobile internet for communication, social networking, and entertainment, entertainment rules the roost in rural areas followed by social networking and communication.

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Its bye bye TV, hello smartphone

For most people, the combined advantages of the internet and smartphone have made television a thing of the past. According to the 2017 Mary Meeker report, Indians spend seven times more time on their smartphones than on TV. Print once the most preferred medium of consumption is almost becoming obsolete.

Social networking sites like Facebook, Whatsapp along with video streaming apps like Hotstar, Netflix have been instrumental in changing our internet behavior and consumption.

This is evident from the fact that most Indians, particularly the youngsters spend almost 80% of their mobile internet time on entertainment, social media and search

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Convenience and cost benefits attached to shopping sites like Amazon and Flipkart is also making online shopping a popular activity

The mobile internet bubble

While the build-up around mobile internet started a while back, 2017 was a particularly eventful year for India.

Reliance Jio’s entry in 2016 with its high-speed 4G internet had triggered a price war that eventually led to a considerable decline in internet charges. This fall in data price was accompanied by a rise in demand for smartphones.

Chinese entrants like Xiomi, Vivo and Lenovo with their affordable and feature-rich phones took advantage of this opportunity and made huge inroads in the country. Such was the craze that by the end of 2017, they accounted for over half the Indian market.

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What we are witnessing today is just the beginning of a long race

More than 60% of the country’s population still don’t have access to the internet. The millions of people who will come online over the next decade will most likely do so through mobile phones

This makes India a lucrative market for both mobile and internet companies. The focus is more likely to be in rural areas where the demand for mobile internet is huge but had has limited penetration so far. The government’s push towards digital India will be a major driver in this effort.

All these factors coming together are creating the right ecosystem for the growth of mobile internet in India. The future is digital and India is definitely on an accelerated path towards it.