Home » Science & Technology » Every fourth Indian now has internet. And the party has just begun

Every fourth Indian now has internet. And the party has just begun

Sahil Bhalla | Updated on: 1 June 2017, 14:06 IST
(Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Hello fellow Indians. Guess what has kept you busy of late. Yes, you got it: it was your smartphone – probably the one on which you are reading this now. And may be streaming some music too.

Indians beat users from all other countries in spending time on their Android phones. Except maybe from China, for which data was unavailable.

This and much more such nuggets of information was revealed in the Internet Trends 2017 report.

The big picture

Google and Facebook contiued to dominate a virtual world that, by the way, looks pretty saturated with smartphones and internet connectivity, according to the report by Mary Meeker of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.

India, however, can keep the game going for this industry as even now only about one in four Indians is connected, pointed out the report released at this year's Code Conference.

Here are some takeaways:

  • Google and Facebook together accounted for 85% of total internet ad revenue growth in the USA between 2015 and 2016.
  • Global smartphone shipments have slowed to a growth of just 3% year-over-year.
  • Global internet use has flat growth at 10% year-over-year. As of 2016, 3.4 billion people are connected to the internet.
Internet Trends 2017
  • Google voice recognition has achieved a 95% word accuracy rate
Internet Trends 2017

The India story

A whopping 55 of the report's 355 slides are about India. A quick glance reveals:

  • Some 355 million of India's near-1.3 billion population are connected to the internet.
  • That means a lot of ground left to cover. But we are getting there: the number of internet users grew by 28%. Needless to say that, buoyed by Reliance Jio, there is much room for growth over the next few years.
Internet Trends 2017
  • India has ousted Brazil as the country that spends the most time on Android phones. Indians have spent nearly 150 billion hours over a two-year span between 2014 and 2016.
  • The country was also the largest downloader of apps from Google Play Store thanks to over 6 billion downloads.

NOTE: Data for China isn't available

Internet Trends 2017
  • While India's smartphone shipment growth has taken a tumble, the mobile phone (smartphone + feature phone) shipments have grown by 6% year-over-year.
  • This growth has been led by the influx of Chinese players - Lenovo, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and others - in the Indian market. The smartphones in India are getting cheaper and better. Some Indian manufacturers like Micromax and Lava are fighting in the low-end 4G feature phone segment. All this has contributed to major growth.
Internet Trends 2017
Internet Trends 2017
  • The entry-level cost for a smartphone is still unaffordable for many Indians with the price being 8% of the country's annual average GDP per capita.
Internet Trends 2017
  • Wireless data costs in the country are significantly declining and approaching more affordable levels. Over the last year, data prices have dipped by more than 48%. This followed Reliance Jio's entry into the market where they offered free services as part of a 'trial' for the first year. Incumbent telecom operators had to respond to the low pricing.
Internet Trends 2017
  • Mobile internet growth in India is not at all surprising. In fact, the dip in data costs has led to an impressive 9% year-over-year jump in wireless internet data usage in the country. This comes as a result of apps that are bandwidth intensive like Hotstar and JioTV. Most first-time internet users are coming online via the use of their smartphones and not desktops making this even less surprising.
Internet Trends 2017
  • What is surprising though is the fact that India's broadband subscribers have grown by almost 85% year-over-year to 277 million users.
Internet Trends 2017
  • As far as India's browser habits go, Chinese company Alibaba's UC Browser leads the way with 50% market share. Google Chrome lags behind at just 32%. Chrome is fast catching up though.
Internet Trends 2017
  • The top downloaded Android apps in India are not at all unusual. Leading the way by far is WhatsApp, a messaging app owned by Facebook. In fact, four of the top ten most downloaded apps are owned by Facebook. Out of the list, USA leads the way with four apps, China - ShareIt and UC Browser - and India - Hotstar and JioTV - have two each while Sweden and Korea have one a piece.
Internet Trends 2017
  • India's mobile usage is second only to Nigeria. 80% of Indians who use the internet connect via their mobile phones.
Internet Trends 2017
  • The next segment of the report shifts to India's eCommerce that has players like Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal, Paytm and Shopclues fighting for market share.
  • Out of all of them, it is USA's Amazon that is leading the way. Amazon India, as the report shows, has grown its inventory and sellers by 3% year-over-year and its fulfilment centres have grown 30% year-on-year. This indicates the massive amounts of money the company is pumping in the country.
Internet Trends 2017
  • As for the much talked about Aadhaar program, 82% of Indians had an Aadhaar number as of 2016.
Internet Trends 2017
  • India's spent just 2 hours per week consuming print media in 2016. That compares with 28 hours per week on the mobile phones. This shows that, at least in the metropolitan cities (where most data is consumed) that newspapers are slowly dying out.
  • Just 2% of the time spent on mobile was consuming news & media. A whopping 45% was on entertainment and 34% on search, social and messaging.
Internet Trends 2017
  • 46% of online Indians consumed local language content. Google is leading the way here by offering search and Android OS in more than a dozen local languages.
Internet Trends 2017
  • Last but not the lead, 72% of Indians on the internet are under 35 years of age.
Internet Trends 2017
First published: 1 June 2017, 14:06 IST
Sahil Bhalla @IMSahilBhalla

Sahil is a correspondent at Catch. A gadget freak, he loves offering free tech support to family and friends. He studied at Sarah Lawrence College, New York and worked previously for Scroll. He selectively boycotts fast food chains, worries about Arsenal, and travels whenever and wherever he can. Sahil is an unapologetic foodie and a film aficionado.