Everyone is looking for their next billion users. Facebook is trying to cross the 2 billion mark having crossed the 1 billion recently. Google is also in the same pursuit of user additions. And both these companies are betting that they will reach their goal by focusing on emerging countries, especially India. That Facebook was looking at India to boost its user base is obvious from their efforts to get Facebook working on all kinds of mobile phones. Google has also been paying a lot of attention to the country by focusing on getting businesses online.
The future of Internet access in India is going to be the mobile phone. Like it or not, there are a lot of innovations here that are waiting to happen. The traction that mobile Internet is seeing is seeing is immense and it is primarily fuelled by social networking, ecommerce, news, media and so on and so forth. This increased traction will soon develop into a space where Indian startups and MNCs can innovate further. I predict that the next 5 years will see the rise of Internet product companies in India. Indian Internet product companies do exist but collectively they are not yet at par with global standards. This will change soon as more companies will look at India for getting users and generating revenue.
Google’s MD for South East Asia, Julian Persaud is confident that “a quarter of the next billion coming online will be from India”. He also added that currently India has more mobile Internet traffic as compared to the desktop one.
According to the latest reports from World Bank, Indian Internet users grew from 61 million in 2009 to 125 million in 2012. That is a good jump and it the number is only getting bigger thanks to cheaper internet enabled phones mushrooming in the market. The reason everyone is excited about India having 125 million users is that this figure represents a penetration rate of 10% only when you look at the total population of the country. This penetration rate is really low when you compare it to Indonesia (18%), Vietnam (35%), Philipines (29%) and Malaysia (61%). If somehow you could get the rest of India’s population to go online, India would become one of the biggest Internet market in the world. Thus the next 3-5 years are crucial towards reaching this goal. This is an exciting time to be working in the Internet industry and I believe a lot of good things are yet to come.