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February 1, 2017

Language will be key to tapping into India’s mobile internet appetite

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A recent IAMAI report* says that today India has over 373 million mobile internet users. According to the report findings, mobile internet penetration in India was at 28% in October 2016.

Of the 373 million mobile internet users, 226 million mobile internet users came from urban areas, while those from rural areas make up for the remaining 147 million. However, what is interesting is the fact that Rural India has seen a 26% growth in mobile internet users between 2015 and 2016.

This means that the goal post for the mobile ecosystem is changing. It is no more purely the urban mobile internet user base that is driving the country’s mobile economy. Semi-urban and rural areas are fast catching up and that is where the ecosystem needs to increase its focus if it hopes to see any sort of seachange growth.

This is also substantiated by the report’s findings which suggest that while penetration of mobile internet in Urban India stands at a tall 51%, mobile internet penetration in rural India is still at a measly 16%. This means that if we had to divide the country into India 3, India 2 and India 1, India 1 is fast approaching a saturation point while India 3 and India 2 is where the bigger opportunity awaits.

The changing mobile economy of India

The mobile internet ecosystem in India has recently seen a correction of sorts in the mobile data costs across mobile data service providers. This has certainly furthered the growth of the mobile internet user base in semi-urban and rural areas. The ecosystem may also be waking up to this change and responding however, language will be pivotal to its success in tapping this mobile internet user base. Here’s why.

According to a study by KPMG and Google, over 78% of internet users in India access Internet through their mobile devices. The number of Indian language Internet users has grown from 42 million (2011) to 234 million (2016) while English Internet users amount to 175 million. To put things in perspective, 99% of Indian language users access Internet through their mobile devices.

This means that for the mobile economy to be able to reach this rising user base, it would need to speak their language. This means not just the ones who offer the content and services via mobile internet but even the marketers who leverage the content and services to take their message to their consumers. And when they do, they need to keep in mind that the rules of engagement will completely change, so reaching the right people with the right marketing approach would be paramount.

*Source: IAMAI – The Mobile Internet Report 2016

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