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India to have the second-largest Internet user base in the world by December 2015: Report

Radhika P Nair
18th Nov 2015
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India will have the world’s second-largest Internet user base by this December, overtaking the US. This is among the many interesting findings in the ‘Internet in India 2015’ Report released by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International.

According to report, India will have 402 million Internet users by December 2015 and its user base has increased by 49 per cent compared to last year. In October, 317 million Indian users accessed Internet. China has the largest Internet user base, with over 600 million users.

It is not surprising anymore that mobile is responsible for a big chunk of this growth. In Urban India, the mobile Internet user base grew by 65 per cent over last year to reach 197 million in October 2015. In Rural India, the mobile Internet user base is expected to reach 87 million by December 2015 and 109 million by June 2016.

Ninety-four per cent of users access the Internet through their mobile phones in Urban India. However, 64 per cent also use the desktop or laptop to access the Internet. But 90 per cent of those who use the mobile to access the Internet consider it their primary device for browsing.

This growth is in line with industry expectations and will be good news for many consumer-focussed tech businesses in sectors ranging from commerce to healthcare and finance. For instance, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder and CEO of mobile wallet and e-commerce company Paytm, said in his exclusive thought leadership article in the TechSparks 2015 Report – Tech for a Billion: “In the next five years, I expect the country will have banking products or full-fledged banks exclusively using mobile platforms. India is the ideal laboratory for such innovations, considering India is a young country – 50 per cent of the population is younger than 24 years – and smartphones are getting more powerful with each passing day.”

In an insight that could be very useful for consumer Internet startups, especially for those whose target users are primarily women, the report found that 77 per cent of urban non-working women who access the Internet do so primarily from the mobile device.

The top eight metros continue to be the single largest block of users, accounting for 31 per cent of the overall user base. Mumbai and Delhi had the most number of Internet users. Smaller metros, like Jaipur, Surat, and Lucknow, have seen a growth of 60 per cent in monthly active user base (users who have accessed Internet at least once a month) over last year.

An unsettling revelation is the gender gap when it comes to access to Internet. Men account for 71 per cent of Internet users, while women account for just 29 per cent. The gap is slightly lower in urban India, with men accounting for 62 per cent and women 38 per cent. The gap is quite stark in rural India where the men to women Internet user ratio stand at 88:12.

The demographic data in the report also point to some interesting trends. In rural India, 75 per cent of the users fall in the 18–30 years age bracket, while 11 per cent are younger than 18 and 8 per cent are in the 31–45 years group. In Urban India, 32 per cent of monthly active users are college-going students.

Online communication, social networking, and entertainment are the top reasons for accessing the Internet. Only 24 per cent of urban users and 5 per cent of rural users accessed the Internet for online shopping.


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