On Mobile Usage in India – All the Facts
What is not so well known about the long running war between iPhone and Android is that India is where the battle between Apple, Google and Samsung is being played out, with frantic intensity. India is the world’s fastest growing smartphone market, according to Gartner, with smartphone sales growing by 166.8% this year and accounting for 53.6% of the new mobile devices sold this year.
Mobile Usage Challenges
India may have been slow at providing basic amenities for its people – still a large number of households in India, especially in rural Indian and in urban slums, do not have access to drinking water or proper toilets. Still, a significant percentage of Indian children suffer from malnutrition and in many ways, the country is still technologically backward, suffering from a creaking infrastructure. But if there is one area in which India shines, and shines really brightly, it is in the national mobile device usage.
There are 1.25 billion people in India and according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), India’s premier telecom regulator, there are as many as 933 million mobile phone connections in the country. Which means that the mobile device usage in India is particularly high for what is still a very poor country.
But that is not the full picture about the mobile device usage in India. The caveat here is that the number of unique mobile phone subscribers in India is actually less than half of the estimated number of 933 million total subscriptions. This is because Indian mobile phone users have an average of 2.5 sims registered in their names. While the sim penetration in India has reached almost 75% of the population, the mobile penetration has only reached 35%. There are more mobile phone subscriptions than mobile phone devices.
Promising Outlook For Mobile Usage
The anomaly is because the telecom market is highly competitive in the country, with half a dozen well established telecom companies battling it out for the attention of a vast population that grows richer and less poorer every year, and has more disposable income to spend, year after year. There is no question that many Indians are poor, but things are changing fast, and there is now no doubt that the country is on the right track. The fast growing mobile device usage in India is one of the biggest signs of a new wave of prosperity.
So to cater to the growing demands of a vast market, the big telecom companies in India, such as Airtel, Vodafone, Idea, Reliance and Tata DoCoMo and to survive the tough competition try trick in the trade to attract new customers, offering freebies and great deals for subscribing to their connections. This, coupled with the really cheap smartphones available in the country has spurred the mobile phone usage in India like nowhere else in the world.
The smartphone market in India is another huge success story. While there were 113 smartphones sold in the country by 2013, and proceeding year – in 2014 – the smartphone sales have been estimated to have increased by 166.8% – a truly remarkable growth. While iPhones are getting increasingly popular in India, the real battle for the attention of the Indian consumer is being played out by the various makers of Android phones. While Samsung still lords over the smartphone sales in India, it is facing great competition – not from Apple, Nokia or Lenovo – but from Indian manufacturers such as Micromax, Lava and Karbonn. Micromax has been a great local success story and its great success against Samsung has been widely covered in business publications in the country.
Also interesting is the fact that more people in India use internet on their mobile phones than on their desktop. The internet penetration in the country (for desktop usage) is still quite low, which is being made up by increasing smartphone sales.
Mobile Usage For Social Media
Facebook and YouTube are hugely popular in India and account for bulk of the internet usage on mobile devices. Facebook claims to have 100 million users in the country, of which 84 million are said to use it only through their mobile phones.
Another interesting fact which suggests just why mobile phone usage in India is so critical is that over 90% of Indian mobile phone users claim to do research on a particular product on their mobile devices before placing an order for it online.
Lastly, an overwhelming majority of mobile phone subscriptions in the country are pre-paid connections (93%). Not just poor or middle class Indians, even the rich prefer to have pre-paid connections because of the mistrust associated with postpaid subscriptions, where the telecom companies are known to make frequent mistakes with the billing.