Since its evolution, the Indian mobile ecosystem has passed through various phases and have faced enormous challenges to make its way out. With simple and costlier feature phones to today’s highly interactive and relatively cheap smartphones, the journey seems no end till date.
As stated by Kavin Bharti Mittal, founder of Hike, on his blog, there are 1.1B people in India that don’t have access to the internet with around 900M people having more or less no clue as to what the internet even is. And when they will come online, it will be mobile first, making India, the world’s first mobile digital population.
Today in second decade of 21st century we are the second largest country in terms of mobile user base next to China. Internationally, we are considered the most potential market in mobile. With citizens having access to latest of smartphones, tablets, mobile apps, etc. at one of the lowest call tariffs in the world, we have also inhibited the latest internet technologies whether its 3G, 4G or VoiP.
Here is a brief overview of the current mobile landscape in India:
Mobile User Base
According to the latest report of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), till January 2013, the total wireless subscriber user base was 862.62 Mn of which 708 Mn i.e. 82.08% were active mobile users. However, as analysed by GSMA Director General Anne Bouverot, on an average, each user has 2 sim cards and in terms of unique number of subscribers, there are about 380 million actual users — about 26 per cent of the total population.
Total Number of Network Operators
Currently there are around 13 network operators providing services in India including two PSU operators, BSNL and MTNL. Private operators hold around 87.78% of the wireless market share (based on subscriber base) whereas the PSU operators hold only 12.22% market share. According to convergence catalyst, currently prepaid subscribers account to 96% of total mobile subscribers in India.
Mobile Internet Users
According to the latest report of IAMAI and IMRB, of the total 150 million internet users in India, there are around 87.1 million mobile internet users till Dec. 2012 and this number is expected to reach 130.6 million by march 2014 and 164.8 million by march 2015.
On an average, a mobile internet user spent about Rs 198 towards internet expenses. Also, according to Gartner, India’s mobile services market will reach Rs 1.2 lakh crore in 2013, up 8% from 2012 revenue of Rs 1.1 lakh crore.
As per the findings, social networking is considered to be the main Internet activity done on a mobile phone compared to Email, 33% and 32% respectively.
It has been predicted that India will become the world’s third largest smartphone market by 2017 after China and U.S. According to KPCB’s latest report there are 67 million smartphone subscribers, which is 6% of the total subscribers in India, growing at the rate of 52% YoY. Also via CMR’s (CyberMedia research) report, Samsung leads the smartphone segment in India. The market share of top 3 Smartphone Manufactures in India is depicted below:
With smartphones in range of INR 4000 – 50,000, cheap data plans and availability of mobile ready regional content and ofcourse, easy to download free apps, India is considered to be one of the top ranking countries across App stores such as Apple store, Google Play(Rank 3), Nokia (Rank 1), Slide me(Rank 1), and Mobango(Rank 1).
With Android getting its second biggest user base from India, the most popular mobile operating platforms in India are Android, iOS, Blackberry and Windows Phone platform. Also, Amazon has entered the mobile app market in India recently.
Considering the fact that, 52% of the mobile app audience comes from an age group of 18-24, apps that are used widely by Indians are Google map, WhatsApp, and others. Also the hanuman chalisa app is a widely downloaded by the consumers of India.
According to the MasterCard Mobile Payments Readiness Index (MPRI), India ranked 21st among 34 countries with the score of 31.4 on a scale of 100. The index also points out that only 14 per cent of Indian consumers are familiar with both P2P and m-commerce transactions, and 10 per cent are familiar with POS transactions. However, with mobile phone penetration of over 80 per cent, India has a huge potential for mobile banking.
Prepaid mobile recharges, DTH recharges, ticket bookings (movies/travel) are among the fast growing transactions in mobile banking.
As per the views of experts, India is still in a nascent stage of mobile advertising with less than one percent market share. Media consumption is higher on other platforms. However with the large size of the market coupled with growing mobile penetration, India is considered to be one of the largest markets by global mobile internet advertising players.
Mobile App Monetization
According to the experts, its difficult to get business through paid apps in India. However, mobile apps ecosystem still offers opportunity with reducing prices of smartphones and data packages. Also, people are quite reluctant in making micropayments with their credit or debit cards which is hampering the growth of business models based on in-app purchases.
The mobile ecosystem in India is currently a hub of global leaders such as Samsung, Apple, Nokia, etc, and is also providing growth to the domestic players at a very fast pace. The sector possess a much sought untapped potential of rural India along with the opportunity to gain market share in urban India with mobile apps and mobile advertising. However, as compared to other markets, the mobile ecosystem in India seems to take a long way ahead to reach the desired heights in coming future. Thus, creating a much wider scope for the new entrants.