India is the only large Internet market in the world that is truly mobile-first. Of the over 200 million Internet users India had at the end of 2013, 100 million accessed the Internet only through mobile devices. The country is now adding 5 million new Internet users every month, all of them connecting only through mobile devices.
Not only are we in the world’s largest mobile-first Internet market, but also the fastest-growing smartphone market. From 70 million connected smartphone users at the end of 2013, the number is set to double to a staggering 140 million by the end of this year.
On average, smartphone users in India spend three hours a day on the Internet. This massive scale provides huge opportunities for Indian companies and entrepreneurs.
This rapid growth in the mobile ecosystem is now impacting every segment of the Internet in India. Search, social, video, local, messaging, gaming and ecommerce are all being deeply impacted by mobile. It is creating unprecedented opportunity for mobile-first startups in India — both building products for India as well as those “born in India and instantly global”.
Newshunt is the largest online vernacular news destination in India — driven largely by mobile, and new startups like GOQii will capitalise on low-cost wearables combined with apps and cloud services to build disruptive global businesses.
E-commerce revenue in India will cross $4 billion this year (this does not include online travel). Mobile transactions were non-existent with product commerce even 2 years ago; mobile commerce now drives 30-45 per cent transactions at most large Indian ecommerce companies. The pace of growth of mobile commerce in India far exceeds the pace of change we are seeing in more developed Internet markets like the US.
Another industry being impacted is communication. With the advent of online messaging platforms, how we communicate is fundamentally changing. WhatsApp, Line, Hike and several other messaging platforms are seeing explosive growth in India.
These products will have a significant impact on the telecommunications industry and also create new platforms that become the springboard for entirely new kinds of products and services. Clearly, change is in the offing!
Large technology services companies in India catering to global clients will also have significant new growth opportunities. The trends we see in India are not specific to this country. The world has gone mobile and the pace is accelerating. India’s leading technology services companies will need to build new skills, new capabilities and new business models and capitalise on this incredible opportunity.
Globally, there are 2 billion smartphone users today. Mobile is impacting every large industry of the world. By 2020, over 6 billion consumers will be connected to the Internet with a mobile device. Imagine a world with 6 billion consumers connected to the Internet. We should seize this moment.
The writer is managing director, Google India.
He is also a member of the Express IT Awards jury