Friday, 12 April 2013

Mobile internet penetration in rural India


According to the population census 2011, 833 million people call rural India their home. Largely agrarian, technology has had a lower rate of adoption there than urban India. But what we see today is clearly a departure from the past.

With the prices of mobile handsets as well as connections – both voice and data dropping at a rapid speed, rural India is taking to mobile phones like a fish takes to water. According to an IMAI report, penetration of mobile phones in rural India is 39%.

This is just not good for the telecom companies selling voice and data plans. It’s good news for everyone who is fighting for the over saturated urban dweller’s wallet. Currently, rural India’s income is $572 billion. It is estimated to rise to $ 1.8 trillion by 2020. The future potential of most brands lie in rural wallets. The mobile internet presents a huge opportunity waiting to be tapped for brands to enter the lives of the rural netizens.

In June 2012, a study conducted by IMRB in seven Indian states stated that 38 million rural dwellers claimed to have used the net atleast once in their life and 31 million had used the internet at least once in the previous month. 3.2 million used their mobile to access the internet which was a 7.2 times jump in just 2 years. As the rate of mobile phone penetration increases, internet usage will continue to gallop as most rural Indians will get their first taste of world wide web  through their mobile.

From basic necessities such as communication to entertainment and even social media is now mobile based for the rural dweller.  Some are listening to songs, others are downloading wall papers, pictures and ringtones from the latest Bollywood blockbuster and it does not stop there.

The trend of voice based social networking is catching up in a big way. So much so even facebook is looking at creating strategies to rope in the Indian farmers to cross 100 million user mark in India.  

Social tech companies such as Gram Vaani (voice of the village) are building several tools to change the way information flows from rural India using voice prompts on simple phones.   

A recent report by e-bay claims that rural India has climbed onto the e – commerce bandwagon and are competing with their urban counterparts.

To cash in on the tech wave that is engulfing rural India, marketers need to focus on understanding what drives the rural netizens and craft content and UX strategy exclusively for them for a holistic marketing strategy for their brands. 
     
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