India’s Internet User Growth Touches 100 Million – Where Will The Next Wave Come From?

So IAMAI’s Internet in India report says that India’s internet user base has gone well above 100 million – that’s just under 10% of the population.

India’s internet user base was growth was very sluggish until 2007-08, but has picked up rapidly thereafter(source: here, 2008 data from here).

Internet User Base In India
Internet User Base In India

This begs the question – will India sustain this breakout growth? What will drive this growth? Here’s one hint about how the picture could look in the next few years.

One graph I found interesting in the IAMAI report was this – about where urban users access internet from.

Internet Access Points in India
Internet Access Points in India

If you see, there’s one category that wasn’t even on the radar in 2009 – but makes its presence in 2011. 9% of urban users now access internet from mobile devices. It’s these users who could power the growth in internet usage going ahead. Here’re a couple of reasons this is likely.

Mobile Vs. PC: It’s cheap Talk!

One reason why PC and laptop internet in India didn’t grow as much as it was expected to(web penetration went from 1% of population in 1998 to 4-5% in 2008) was that laptops/PCs are expensive.

They cost at least 4-5 times an average internet user’s monthly salary – which was one reason adoption was slow.

That’s not the case with mobile internet at all. With good handsets coming for 4-5k – and internet usage costing a couple of hundred rupees per month – mobile devices are far more accessible to lay Indians.

Marketing $$ in the market

Telecom operators have paid a fortune for 3G licenses. The only way they’ll recoup their money is if users adopt the internet in a big way.

Thus they are going to be investing heavily in selling internet usage – discounts, offers, advertising – to drive 3G adoption.

Everyone else is going mobile

More users will go mobile because their friends are on mobile internet. As instant chat and instant responses become common, more people will gravitate towards mobile because that’s where their friends’ circle is.

Of course, much of this is in line with global expectations – and mobile internet is expected to overtake desktop internet usage as early as in 2014. With its sheer size of population, it wont be too surprising to see India(and China) power much of this growth.

What do you think? Do you think India will see sustained internet growth? Mobile internet growth? Is this a future or just another hype?

[Shamanth Rao is the Head of Campaign Management for APAC at InMobi ( ). He writes at ].

Sign Up for nextbigwhat newsletter

The smartest newsletter, partly written by AI.

Download, the short news app for busy professionals