Opera recently released its monthly State of the Mobile Web report for July, offering up in-depth insight into all facets of mobile Web usage worldwide. There is a remarkable discrepancy in the male or female split when it comes to mobile data usage. Only four percent of Indian users are female, which is very low compared to the worldwide average of 23 percent. The study thus revealed the gender gap in Indian mobile web usage is the widest in the world. As usual, this month’s report has some other surprising data too.
In terms of growth worldwide, Asia showed the most substantial gains. From July 2009 to July 2010, page views in the top 10 countries in Southeast Asia increased by 238%, unique users increased by 205% and the amount of data transferred increased by 227%.
Most interesting, however, is the finding that the number of woman surfing the mobile Web has grown more than 575% in the last two years, with South Africa and the United States having the highest percentage of female users. 44% of all South Africans on the mobile Web are women, compared to 36% of all U.S. mobile Web users. Shockingly, South Africa is the country having the highest percentage of female mobile web users.
Of course, as with anything involving statistics, the Opera report must be taken with a hefty grain of salt. The survey methodology is rife with opportunities for sampling and reporting biases—namely, it only surveyed Opera Mobile users (leaving users of other mobile browsers out of the equation), and was conducted among 300,000 users who had to voluntarily opt in. Generally speaking, males are likelier than females to respond to opt-in surveys, which can further skew the samples. Clearly it is not unreasonable to say that the survey results may be inaccurate.
Perhaps it has to do with the lower literacy rates among females in India (76.9% for men against 54.5% for women). Or perhaps it has to do with the number of Indian males employed in IT, which makes them more likely to be avid mobile gadget users. Or perhaps it is simply an inexplicable cultural phenomenon. . Even with these limitations in Opera’s survey methodology, we can still reasonably infer that the gender gap in Indian mobile web usage is the widest in the world.
Undoubtedly whoever seizes this opportunity and unlocks the enormous potential of India’s 600 million women will reap spectacular benefits.