2012 Recap : The Year Mobile Internet Surpassed Desktop Internet in India

India is the largest market for Opera Mobile Store. 40% of mobile internet users in India ditch newspapers for consuming content on smartphones

2012 is a milestone year for Indian mobile economy. While there was a major buzz around 3G launch, mobile Internet stood out as the most promising development in this part of the world.

Here is a quick rundown of mobile Internet segment growth in India :

Declining PC market in India.

Desktop market is declining. Given that India skipped PC revolution, the fall in PC shipment for Q3 2012 is a worrisome sign for the industry (as per Gartner, the PC shipment declined by 5.9% over Q3, 2011 and stood at 2.9 million shipments only).

Important to note that even the festive season couldn’t help boost the sales.

This emphasises the fact that despite the festive season and availability of various end user schemes on PCs, the market was impacted by high inflation, global economic uncertainty and limited share of wallet as consumers preferred to spend on other consumer durables.[Vishal Tripathi, principal research analyst at Gartner]

Smartphone Penetration in India: 2012

While there are 900 million subscribers in India, a recent study suggested that these 900 million subscriptions are owned by only 300 million users (i.e.multiple sim/user). And that surely gives a major boost that there is a room to grow the ecosystem.

In terms of smartphone penetration, the numbers aren’t really that great : there were only 27 million smartphone users in Q1 2012 and between Jan-June, 2012 India only shipped 5.5 million smartphones.

That is,  still early days for smartphone penetration in India.

How big really is Mobile Internet in India?

If you go by statcounter data (which tracks sites that use statcounter scripts), mobile internet has already surpassed desktop Internet traffic in India! And not today, but 4 months back.

Mobile vs Desktop Internet in India
Mobile vs Desktop Internet in India : 2012 Data

The real truth : Mobile Internet and S40!

Is mobile internet consumption in India driven primarily by Android and Apple(s) of the world only? Actually NOT!

The truth is that Nokia’s S40 is driving a huge adoption in India.

Popular Mobile OS in India : 2012
Popular Mobile OS in India : 2012

Rise of Mobile-Only Generation

As per a report by Opera, close to 41% of Mobile Internet Indians are ‘mobile-only’. And 40-50 % of Indian Internet users are expected to access the web only on mobile phones by 2015 [Report].

If you think Mobile Internet is not really that big a deal in India: take a look at some of these stats.

  • India is the largest market for Opera Mobile Store [link]
  • 40% of mobile internet users in India ditch newspapers for consuming content on smartphones [source]
  • 40% of Google India’s search originates from mobile phones [source]
  • 30% of new Facebook users in India register via mobile phone ! [source]
  • Indian Smartphone users are more active than the American counterparts. [research]
  • And more : NextBigWhat.com/tag/mobile-internet

Winds of Change

As of now, the smartphone penetration in India is nothing to boast of, but here are some early signs that are worth noting:

  • Apple has beefed up its distribution in India and launched iTunes in India as well. This opens up a brand new segment for Apple to tap into and expect iDevices reaching out to more Indians (including Tier 2 cities).
  • 3G hasn’t yet taken off in India. Actually, only 4% of India’s over 900 mn mobile subscriptions are on 3G. It’s not that 3G will never happen in India, but various factors like price points/plans need to be sorted to get this right (read : Reasons for 3G poor adoption in India).

Now that operators have embraced 4G (read: Airtel 4G Review/ Reliance launching 4G), expect 2013 to be see faster web speed.
Going Mobile is not an option anymore. It’s a necessity and expect 2013 to drive a huge disruption in this segment.
What are your thoughts?
To recap the entire discussion, we have collated all the useful data in this slideshow – please feel free to share with friends/colleagues.

[This article is part of our 2012 Recap series, and is supported by CCAvenue.]

2012 Recap/ 2013 Trends

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