Internet usage in India has not penetrated as much as it has in China. This despite various measures by Indian Government from low cost PCs to increasing competition among Telco’s. Lets’ draw a few comparisons between India and China to understand this better.
|Median Age||26 yrs||35 yrs|
|Wireless Users (June’2010E)||617.5 mil||800 mil|
|Wireless Internet Users||50 mil||277 mil|
|PC Internet Users||31 mil||143 mil|
|Total Internet Users||81 mil||420 mil|
|Major local Languages||~27||~4|
|Broadband||>256 kbps||>1 Mbps|
|Broadband Internet price||>$5/month||>$10/month|
One could argue that literacy and huge diversity are hampering India’s Internet growth compared to China. My point however, is that Indian users have overcome these issues in the past. The proliferation of mobile phones is one such case. Today users use mobile phones for a diverse range of functionalities from calling, SMS to more sophisticated ones like Bluetooth File transfers & Internet browsing.
We all know that bulk of pictures and other entertainment content is still transferred through Bluetooth. One such transfer typically required 12-15 steps. SMS is another example which is popular among users from different cultures and regions. On the contrary Telecenters were nowhere near as successful.
To me above examples prove that if sufficient motivation is there Indian consumers can adapt complex technologies as well despite their low literacy and huge diversity.
Other reason could be a relatively low level of income in India. However, as per a latest report from businessworld.in, high income households in India now have outnumbered the poor income household for the first time. Based on this, if we say that 50% of Indians (about 500 mill.) are middle or rich class even then a total of 81 million Internet users are too low!
So the question remains why does India lags so far behind China in Internet usage? Is it lack of marketing campaigns like celebrity endorsing Internet usage among Indians? Or do we not have enough local websites to attract the mass-Indian consumers?
In my opinion users are yet to perceive the value for Internet. The reason could be lack of appealing content for Indian users. Even though we have huge number of Indians on Facebook, YouTube and twitter yet it seems that these social networking portals are not enough for proliferation of Internet in India.
China for example has alternates like- Baidu.com, QQ.com and Renren.com to almost all major global-websites. These local websites are very popular among Chinese internet users. May be time has come for telcos and content builders to develop more India centric websites, portals, and mobile-apps and market these effectively to generate a wave of demand for Internet in India.