Five Internet Trends to Keep an Eye On

Between now and 2015, internet users in India will more than triple to 350 million, according to a recent study by McKinsey & Co. This will make India’s online population larger than the entire current population of the United States.

As a result, whether you are a business person, a politician or a social activist in India, get ready for the tipping points that are set change the way businesses and other bodies interact with consumers and clients. So be wise: look at where the trends are pointing, and position yourself and your business ahead of the curve.

India’s online trends are relevant on a global scale, too: of the world’s 1.14 billion internet users, 100 million are Indian. Asia as a whole has 825 million internet users.

Below are some of the key patterns the Asia Digital Marketing Association noticed when we launched our 2011 Yearbook. We recommend you take note of them – or ignore them at your peril:

1. Smartphones. India’s mobile growth is already impressive, but in addition to voice and SMS, increased smartphone penetration will allow an entire generation of Indians to leapfrog to accessing the Web on their handsets without needing a computer. Today only 8% of Indian households have access to a PC. However, by 2015, the mobile phone is expected to help unlock internet access, with more than half of the anticipated 350 million internet users accessing the internet from their mobile phones.

2. Mobile Commerce. Today, in India people primarily research the features, benefits and prices of products and services on-line and then buy offline. This is why popular eCommerce portals, such as those in the retail and travel sectors, in India have offline delivery and payment options. But online purchases on mobile phone are making strides: 38% of mobile internet users say they have used their phones to shop online.

3. The power of women. Today, Indian women make up only 20-30% of the online population, Asia’s lowest percentage. (Thailand has the highest with 72.5% women users). Although with more than 25.45 million users India is the world’s fifth biggest Facebook nation, only 29% of them are female, according to data provided by comScore, a company that focuses on digital market intelligence. But this figure is likely to increase in coming years: If other Asia markets are any indication, over time the percentage of women online should come closer to 50/50.

4. Cloud computing. Cloud computing services are already more popular than they are in many other parts of the world, with 88% of respondents to one survey conducted by KPMG saying they use cloud services for applications such as emails, sharing photos and videos. As broadband penetration increases, cloud service use will also grow. Half of India’s internet users now watch videos online. The popularity of video is only exceeded by cricket, and when the two converge, the results are extraordinary. Although in January 2011 Indians watched 3.4 million online videos, views sky-rocketed to 37 million in March, as the nation closely followed every wicket of the cricket World Cup.

5. Social media. This is destined to keep growing – in India like elsewhere. Social media and micro-blogging services such as Twitter will become increasingly important sources for feedback about products, policies, and people – with users more likely to voice their opinions, especially when they’re negative.


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