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Students in India Get Serious About Smartphones

Growing time spent on the devices helps grow the country’s user base

June 28, 2016

Smartphone-hungry students in India are helping push demand for the devices in the country to new heights. eMarketer forecasts predict the country will see 21.5% growth in new smartphone users in 2016, a higher rate of adoption than anywhere else on earth.

Devices Owned by Students in Urban India, by City Tier, Dec 2015 (% of respondents in each group)

According to June 2016 research from Tata Consultancy Services, the country’s youth may be helping drive a significant share of current smartphone demand. Based on the research, which examined digital habits and device ownership among “urban” students in India between the ages of 12 and 18, nearly 83% of the country’s students own a mobile phone, a higher rate of ownership than any other device mentioned.

While not every student that claimed ownership of a mobile phone in Tata’s study has a smartphone, the daily habits of those that do suggest many young consumers aspire to own such devices. Take, for instance, the daily time spent with smartphones. More than 44% of the students surveyed spent 30 minutes or more with their smartphones each day. This was in comparison to less than 35% who spent 30 minutes or more on their desktops and laptops.

Daily Time Spent with Smartphones Among Students in Urban India, by Demographic, Dec 2015 (% of respondents in each group)

Although time spent doesn’t necessarily mean a 1:1 relationship with device ownership, there may in fact be a “network effect” at play. In other words, as more of the user's peers own a smartphone of their own, the more essential their own device becomes as a communication tool, leading to further time spent.

Students’ preferred channels for accessing social media sites add further evidence to support this claim. Some 42.7% of students mentioned smartphones were their preferred channel, second only to desktops and laptops. As young students in India spend more time on mobile-friendly social networks like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter, this is likely to further play into smartphone demand.

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