There are 2.4 Billion Internet users worldwide, out of which 1.5 Billion access through their mobile devices, as a primary or a supplementary device. These mainly include Smartphones and Tablets.
According to the latest report by Avendus, Smartphones are expected to grow at a CAGR of 20% to reach 2.2Bn by 2015, whereas the Tablet sales are to grow at CAGR of 33% to reach 369 Mn units by 2016 worldwide. Mobile devices are playing a key role in increasing the number of Internet users globally.
In India, mobile internet penetration is yet to gain more attention. Out of 160 Mn Internet users, 86 Mn access it through mobile devices i.e. just 53.75% of the total.
This ratio is low as compared to the global scenario where 62.5% of Internet users use mobile internet devices too. 9% of overall Internet page views in India come from mobile devices.
The penetration of mobile internet is driven by three key factors – Access Devices available at an appropriate cost, Affordable data connectivity and ‘Strong Use Cases’ providing a compelling reason for users to adopt technology.
In India, the penetration of internet capable mobile devices is higher than the actual mobile internet users. There were 431 Mn such devices in India as of December 2012.
Globally smartphones users grew by 44% from 2011 to 1.4Bn at the end of 2012, in India this figure was 61%.
Even though this rate of spread looks good, but at 29 Mn smartphone users against 700 Mn active mobile subscribers, it is still slow.
The primary two reasons for this low pace is the high cost of smartphones and the slow offtake of 3G connections.
‘Smart feature phones’ which have a proprietary OS but have smartphone features like 3G, commonly used apps etc, account for 90% of internet capable devices in India
Tablets too come under this category of mobile internet devices. Their penetration is very low in India, but its slowly picking up pace. With 3 Million units sold in India in 2012, the number is expected to grow to 6 Million this year.
Even with 2G, 3G and now even 4G connections available in the market, fixed Internet or Wifi is the most popular among mobile internet users. In India, 3G connections have been slow to pick up, with just 28 Mn connections in March 2013.
However affordability of 3G connectivity has improved significantly. Airtel reported its 3G price to be INR 0.25 per MB last month, which is less than the global average of 3 cents or INR 1.89. Also an optimism on 4G prices could be seen with services like Tikona and Airtel offering <10 paise per MB download.
With a large customer base of 86 million people accessing Internet using their mobile devices, many businesses are working in this sphere to reach the mobile internet consumer. There are several near-term opportunities in segments including games and apps, music, videos, portals, classifieds, utility payments, ticketing and travel, m-tailing and local promotions.
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