Mobile activities in India are mainly limited to calling and texting, even as smartphones become more accessible
According to several demographic analysts, India is on track to surpass China as the most populous country in the world in the near future. And, as in other emerging markets, there has been heavy adoption of mobile phones by much of the population, with the country approaching a billion connections. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) counted 893.8 million mobile connections at the end of 2011. eMarketer benchmarks our own forecast on TRAI’s count, and expects total connections to pass the 1 billion mark in 2013.
As far as penetration, there were three mobile connections for every four people in the country (75.2%) at the end of the 2011, and by 2013, penetration will be 86.6%.
But connections, which are based on operator counts of active SIM cards, only tell part of the story—eMarketer estimates that the number of mobile phone users will continue to trail connections by about half. There were 416.2 million individuals using a mobile phone at least once per month in 2011, and that number is expected to reach half a billion, 524.9 million, in 2013.
The mobile phone is helping lift the living standard of India’s masses, but most mobile activities are still limited to texting and calling, even as smartphones become more accessible. According to the April 2012 TNS “Mobile Life” study, only 12% of mobile phone users in India browsed the web in January 2012. Another 37% were interested in trying it out, while 51% had no interest at all.
Social networking and email were tied for the second most popular mobile web activity, at 9%, while another 32% were interested in connecting, and the same percentage were interested in emailing on their mobile device.
eMarketer expects the mobile web to increase rapidly in India. Because broadband infrastructure is still in the early stages of development, at only 4.8% of households in 2011, according to eMarketer estimates, mobile phones will become the primary access point to the web for many users. As a result, the number of mobile internet users will reach 84.6 million in 2012, and is forecast to more than double to 184.7 million by 2016.
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