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Smartphone adoption in India: Going beyond age and income barriers


Disposable income, fast lifestyle and the need to always stay connected. All true marks of the young smartphone user from urban India. It estimated that that the country has the highest number of people between 10 to 24 years of age, compared to the rest of the world. It is less surprising therefore 80% of the smartphone user base in country is under 25 years of age.

For these smartphone users, their device is the doorway to their digital lives, and a means of always staying updated and connected with the world. Much of their daily lives are spent accessing Internet via their smartphones. However, as mobile internet usage and content access in this age group peaks, there is another interesting trend that the mobile ecosystem in the country is witnessing.

Smartphones and mobile internet: Going beyond young India
According to an Ericsson report , there has been a marked increase in users over the age of 50 adopting mobile Internet. The motivation for these users to adopt smartphones for Internet access is primarily the desire to stay connected with their near and dear ones who are scattered across India and other parts of the globe.Age-group break-up smartphone mobile internet user base India

These users mostly use email, chat and instant messaging applications. Furthermore, smartphones are helping these users stay updated on the latest news and trends, and also catch up on their hobbies, especially after retirement from work.

On the other hand, smartphone adoption which was primarily seen as trend among young urban Indians, is seeing another change. More women in urban India are now using smartphones with 34% accessing mobile internet via their devices as opposed to 20% in 2013. These devices which enjoyed more popularity in urban India are also now seeing increasing uptake in non-metros and smaller cities. For instance, every one in three mobile users in midsize and small cities today owns a smartphone.

Breaking the income barrier
In 2013, only 38% of the population in the lower income group owned a smartphone. This number has seen a strong growth and today 45% of this population owns a smartphone. Buying technology was traditionally an urban, higher income group trend. Mobile internet access which was primarily an urban, large metropolitan phenomena is still dominant in these areas. However, interesting enough, consumers in smaller cities and towns are rapidly adopting smartphones and accessing mobile internet.

This is because today India is seeing a flux of low cost smartphones that are available for as low as Rs. 1900. This means that even those within the lower income groups are able to get past the entry barrier of device cost and access mobile internet.Smartphone penetration in India by town class

Also, the population in metropolitan areas has a wide choice of recreational facilities. On the other hand, smaller cities and towns have fewer entertainment options such as digital theatres and shopping malls. Smartphones are bridging this gap, connecting the population in these areas, bringing them affordable access to entertainment and other recreational activities. Also, for the population that migrates from these areas to larger cities, smartphones are helping them stay connected both at work and with their loved ones back at home.

Smartphone adoption and mobile internet access continues to be an urban phenomena. But this is fast changing as smaller cities are fast catching up and even those with lower incomes today see smartphones as valuable alternative to other personal technology devices. It will be interesting to see how this trend continues in the coming the days.

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