How & What Mobile Phone Services does India use – Report


India is currently the 2nd largest Mobile Market in the world after China, adding nearly 10-12 million subscribers on average monthly.

At the end of April 2009, Indian Mobile subscriber base was pegged at 403.66 million, as per recent TRAI number.

Most of the Metro’s and big cities have nearly come to a saturation point, however, the current phase of growth in Indian Mobile Market is in Rural areas that is now accounting for majority of growth in mobile space.

Having said that, I thought it would be interesting for our readers to know how 270 million odd Urban subscribers use their mobile phone

So here you go, some of the numbers may surprise you, while some may disappoint, but it sure makes a good reading.


Which Indian City Uses Social Networking maximum through its mobile phones?


Nearly 10% Delhi Mobile subscribers use Social Networking services on their mobile phones, followed by Mumbai & Chennai. No doubt, I see hoards of Delhites, tweeting from their mobile phones !

Which Social networking site is most favoured by Indian Urban Mobile Subscribers?

Most-popular-Social-Networking-site-india Okay, we know Orkut is the king in India be it web or Mobile, but what in the world is “Mycantos”, which accounts for nearly 4% of urban India using it?. I am also surprised that twitter does not find any mention here – Isnt it part of a Social Networking Phenomenon?

Which is the most favoured Mobile Search Engine by Indians?


Nearly 18.5 million Indian Urban Mobile subscribers used their mobile phones for searches, with Google taking the numero-uno position with 5.76 million followed by yahoo with 4.58 million.

Which mobile site is used daily by Indian Urban Mobile Subscribers?

Mobile-site-used-daily-IndiaAgain, no surprised here – the winner is Google followed by Yahoo. Nearly half of Urban India uses Google daily on their mobile phones.

Which IM application does Urban India use on its Mobile phones?

A quarter (25%) of all urban Indians who use IM over their phone do so from an application that came preloaded in the phone.

    • Pre-Loaded IM Application – 25.7%
    • Web Browser for IM – 19.1%
    • Third party downloaded IM app – 16.8%

Which is the most popular IM service used by Urban Indian Mobile Subscribers?


Aha…surprises here – Yahoo! Messenger has narrowly edged Google’s Gtalk to become most popular messenger service with urban Indian mobile users, with a 18.3% market share followed closely by Google Talk (17.8%). Nice to see Yahoo beating Google, atleast somewhere :). I am sure though next few months will see Google coming to No.1.

Which Indian Mobile service provider offers the most reasonable prices, Reliable Customer Support and diver range of Products?


The state and Government run companies seem to score well in reasonable offerings column, while MTNL and Vodafone score in the reliable customer support offering. Aircel followed by Airtel top when it comes to offering its subscribers diverse range of mobile products.

Do Indian Mobiles subscribers participate in Mobile Contests?

Offcourse they do, that too in large numbers!

Indian-mobile-subscribers-SMS-contestAlmost 60% of Females have participated in 1 to3 SMS contests and though this is higher than their male counterparts, in frequency of participation males outshine females.

And what is the source of these SMS Contest? offcourse, it is dominated with TV.  all reality TVs, song and dance shows choose their winners via some or the other SMS contest and India just loves it.

have a look


86% of all SMS contest originate from TV, followed by Newspapers and Internet.

Mobile VAS services report

Here are some numbers on how Urban India uses the Mobile Value Added Services offered by Telecom providers.

SMS Based Value Added Services


Nearly 56 Million urban Indians used a VAS related SMS subscription service in March/April 2009 – out of which Reliance Mobile CDMA accounted for a quarter of all subscribers to VAS SMS subscription service, followed by Bharti Airtel (18%) and Vodafone (14%).

Which is the most popular SMS service used by Urban India?

Most-Popular-VAS-service-Urban-India This number actually surprised me – I had thought News and probably Jobs would garner most votes, but NO – it is Jokes that used by 52% of Urban Indian Mobile users followed by Astrology.

Once conclusion I can definitely make from these numbers is that majority of mobile users in India fall into Age group of 16-25 years !

Which are the popular VAS options that Urban India likes?

No surprises here – Unlimited Internet Access & better offers on SMS bundles are the two VAS options that Indian urban mobile phone users look at while deciding on a service.

Which is the most popular M-Commerce Activity for Urban Indian Mobile phone users


Nearly 98 million of all mobile users have used mobile phones to recharge their card or pay their phone bill –The second most popular M-Commerce activity is buying movie tickets (39.67 million)

Which is the most popular VAS service used by Urban Indian Mobile Phone User?


“Finding out who called” and “informing people when busy” are the two other most popular Value added services used by Urban India. Missed call alerts is used by almost 110 million urban Indians while Talk/Voice SMS is used by almost 80 million.

Note: The above graphs / numbers are created by (let us know if you have any questions on these numbers)

  1. […] around the corner the telcos would be happy to keep the existing customers. Of the 400 million mobile subscribers IN India almost 90% could care less about any of the fancy 3G services. Airtel is […]

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  3. SOJAN says

    Great job, it is a deep analysis.

  4. Vikrant Dessai says

    Saw the mention of your blog on economist , that explains the slowness.

  5. satish says

    sir, i need some data population, users, subscriber in mobile phone since 1946-2010 .if you have so forward me. thanx

  6. Rama Krishna Padhy says

    Hi Mr. Arun,
    Awesome work friend, I dont agree to ask u abut the source, but the graphs represents a clearer view of the market.

    Keep it up

    If u can put any analysis on lifestyle industry that would be grt!!

  7. Jerrick says

    Complete resource of the activities of using Mobile Phone. Most receive sms is astrology and jokes. I thought most of the people thought that a spam mail but still so many people would like to receive it

  8. Shashank Shekhar Rai says

    Hi. I am looking for data on state wise mobile penetration. Can you guide me? I need to make comparison between mobile penetration and NSDP in order to check Economic Growth wrt Digital Inclusion. Kindly Help.

  9. james says

    i need in bsnl market share in india

  10. adarsh says

    Hi Arun,

    Just got this page while searching data on mobile handsets. Its old data and not very relevant now. Request you to let me know if you have the latest data on all these very interesting categories. Will await your reply…


  11. Manjunatha says

    Hi Arun,
    May I know what is the source of information?? if it is a survey, I would like to know the numbers as well.

  12. snehal says

    I would like to know the source for your data.Seems comprehensive.I am writing a report and therefore would need to know the source for your data.

  13. charu says

    could you please let me know the gender wise differnce in mobile phone usage and specifically in text messaging.

  14. Valli says

    Hi Arun,

    A lot of rare-to-find insights/data coming out of that analysis!
    Would it be possible for you to share a brief on the survey methodology a bit, so that we can understand the limitations of the analysis, if any.


  15. Subhash Jadhav says

    Indian people & other people Sefe from Carpation / Industrial Thief / Lockl problems
    & The Top Most
    From August 15, commemorates the day in 1947 when India achieved freedom from British rule. But Now 2009 India achieved freedom from British rule.? Yes Or No
    I Think It’s No

  16. Priyanka says

    Hi Arun,

    This is a really good analysis and I would like to use it for my dissertation. Would it be possible for you to tell me the source from where you got this data?


  17. Venkat says

    Can you help me make sense of the “SNs favored by Urban mobile subscribers” number? The number on the graph is not clear – is it 11.4% or 21.4% (31.4%?) for Orkut?

    Question 1: Hard to believe that Orkut is almost (at least) double Facebook’s usage ON MOBILE in URBAN areas? That’s an interesting insight if it is true.

    If the biggest player here is 11 or 21%, does this mean that there is a very long tail of SNs being accessed from mobile? (The graph obviously doesn’t cover these 100 or so players with less than 2% share of the mobile SN usage pie.)


    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      Venkat, Thanks for dropping is your answer

      The number is 11.4% for Orkut, facebook though increasing is still behind;( ) article on business week, that further solidifies this. Anything under 2% we do not track, due to the low usage we will not be able project the numbers reliably.

      1. Venkat says

        Thanks for the clarification Arun!

  18. ghosh says

    Good report! But keeping in mind the total GPRS/data enabled handset users, as per industry reports, total GPRS/data users in the country would 9m across( IMAI report 2008). That essential means if we take the total users in 4 metros- its about 64m and out of which users of Social Network services is about 4.2 m. Which would mean approx 48% of the total GPRS / data handsets enabled users use their handsets to access social networks. Or in other words it means out of every 2 data users approx 1 users user uses their handsets to access social networks. This looks a tad high. Even if we double the data users from 9m in 2008 to 18 m in 2009(not likely) even then it means 29% users using their handsets to access social networks.
    of data users use their handsets to access social networks. Given the current state of congestion for voice calls on various networks it seems though possible might be unlikely.

    1. Arun Prabhudesai says

      Ghosh, you got the maths perfectly I must say. However, if a user has gprs, I am sure most of them will use for 2 things…email & social networking, so 48% although a bit higher is comprehensible. I will put this question across to the surveyor and let me see what he has to say..

      Update: Here is the reply from the surveyor

      To answer your comments around social networking, Social networking sites can be accessed via sms as well, you dont necessarily need gprs enabled handsets to access the same, the numbers we have take that into account

  19. Harpreet says

    Amazing facts ! Great Job…..Would love to read more abt these in future as well………

  20. Siddhesh says

    Good analysis, Arun. Some interesting figures there. Any particular reason why MTNL is rated so highly?

    Also, social networking on mobile puts interesting figures too.

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