730 million – that’s how many Indians own a mobile phone subscription. This is more than the combined population of the US and Indonesia, the world’s third and fourth most populous countries. In comparison, there are a dismal about nine hospital beds for every 10,000 residents in India.
Clearly, no other technology has won Indians over like the mobile phone, and now, increasingly, the smartphone, has. It has democratised, to some extent, information and made accessing services easier for a large section of the population.
This has obviously had a positive impact on industry. The direct impact, of course, has been for the telecom sector, which is expected to rake in revenue of $37 billion in 2018 according to estimates put out by credit rating agency ICRA. A report by TeamLease and the Telecom Sector Skill Council stated the telecom sector will generate two million jobs in 2017.
More importantly, the mobile phone has acted as an enabler for several other sectors. Mobile commerce makes up around 35 percent of the $26 billion digital commerce market. Even from the sellers’ side, the ability to complete end-to-end order management on mobile phones has ensured thousands of small scale artisans and manufacturers are now selling their products online.
The entire digital payments boom is riding atop the mobile wave. A PwC report states that the digital payments sector touched $50 billion in size in 2016, and is expected to grow to $500 billion in 2020.
This doesn’t mean there are no challenges. Mobile infrastructure is inconsistent in the country. As per a 2016 survey by mobile customer experience analysis company RedMango Analytics, India’s average call drop rate was 4.73 percent as against the global standard of 3 percent.
While India contributed $2.7 billion to global app revenues, it also has among the highest uninstall rates in the world with 60-80 percent of apps being uninstalled within 90 days of installing. With infrastructure improvements like setting up of additional base stations, entry of players like Reliance Jio, and lowering of smartphones prices, the mobile revolution is set to continue in India.
The infographic below captures the scale of India’s mobile revolution: