Ericsson announced the results of a research that they conducted in high growth markets like India, Brazil and Russia in April 2012. These economies are experiencing a massive surge in smartphone usage with one beating down the price of the other.
With every new smartphone model being packed with fancier and niftier features, the competition in the smartphone segment is getting tighter and tougher. The Ericsson research identifies that the near future will see these high growth economies using smartphones as the primary means of internet access rather than broadband or fixed line connections.
Ericsson Consumerlab research was carried out amongst consumers between the ages of 15 and 54. In all the three key economies identified, consumers accessed internet through their smartphones at least once a week. Quantitative research using on-device measurements was carried out amongst 5,000 smartphone users in India in late 2011 along with in depth interviews for the qualitative part.
What are the key findings of the research pertaining to India?
- The usability, functionality and a fast internet connection are a few of the main reasons why consumers are adopting smartphones and apps so quickly.
- Apps are seen by users as tools that make them independent. They serve as a guiding light to complete any given task. That’s why there is a certain amount of loyalty and emotional connection that Indians have to particular apps that they use.
- Many first time smartphones users are unable to separate the concept of apps from their smartphones. For them, apps are the reason why they purchased their smartphone in the first place!
- Indians use apps that particularly help them to strengthen their identity or enhance their mobile browsing experience. Games and social media apps remain increasingly popular for Indian smartphone users, with a special interest in downloading wallpapers, screen savers and other such media. This make Indians stand out in their smartphone usage.
- GPRS is the most preferred form of Internet connection in India amongst smartphone users as compared to Brazil which prefers Wi-Fi and Russia which prefers 3G.
- In India, an average of 16 Android apps, 11 Symbian apps and 8 Blackberry apps are downloaded per user on a monthly basis, depending on which platform they use.
- Amongst the three countries identified for the research, India emerged as the winner in the measure of how much time users spent on their smartphones. 68 percent of new users spent at least 50 percent of their time online on their smartphones. Android users in India spent almost 3 times of their time on apps than their Symbian counterparts. Android users also installed more apps on their smartphones than their Symbian or BB counterparts, consuming 23 percent more data than the latter. In summary, Android emerged as a clear winner in India.
- The research pointed out that in all the three countries, new users and mature users were gradually moving from using social interaction apps to downloading very specialized apps. Also, new users ended up sourcing apps via search engine results and third party reviews rather than the official app marketplace. This is something that app makers could look at rectifying in the future.
- In India, Brazil and Russia, an average of 20 percent smartphone users started using data intensive apps related to video, TV, maps and navigation after purchasing their smartphones.
An earlier report on mobile broadband usage in India released by Ericsson ConsumerLab in March 2012 interestingly stated that users confessed smartphones having affected their private lives. It encroached upon the time that they could otherwise spend with loved ones.
A similar Nielsen Informate Mobile Intelligence report on smartphone usage in India in 2011 stated that users spent more time on entertainment and internet based content as compared to voice calling and text messages.
The bottom line of all these reports is that Indians are consuming more content, more Internet and more mobile services that ever before. With banking, shopping, medical services, entertainment and social interaction made easily available on smartphones with a tap, there’s no reason why Indians should not subscribe to the ‘anywhere-anytime’ policy.
Another reason why many Indians in the 40+ age category are adapting to preloaded smartphones is because it doesn’t even require basic computer literacy. It’s all self guided and self intuitive. And with Android smartphones as cheap as Rs. 6,000 flooding the market, who wouldn’t use them? As more and more mobile users in the world’s second most populous country take on to using apps and smartphones, one wonders if India will become the focus of all research and production of mobile phones in the future.