The Internet has finally arrived in India. The year-on-year (2011 – 2012) growth of Internet in India by unique visitors (desktop and laptop users) was 45 percent, the highest growth rate globally. The U.S. grew by only 1 percent Y-o-Y and China by 3 percent Y-o-Y. Moreover, India is the only country in the world with mobile traffic surpassing desktop traffic. In 2011 and 2012, global mobile phone manufacturers Samsung, Apple, and Nokia leveraged this upward mobile trend to their advantage. This gives us a strong indication that most global Internet and technology giants will look at India with a special interest in 2013.
Source: comScore chart on unique visitor growth for India from 20120-2011 and 2011-2012.
Let us take a look at some foreseeable highlights of 2013.
1. E-commerce growth and consolidation: E-commerce has grown by leaps and bounds in India. The current e-commerce market is tapped at $1.6 billion and is estimated to reach $8.8 billion by 2015 (Forrester Research). A large number of players have owned this space in 2012 – notable ones being Flipkart, Jabong, Myntra, Yatra, and MakeMyTrip, all of whom have advertised heavily on TV. That being said, 2013 will be the year of consolidation. The weaklings will either be bought out or may totally drop off the radar. E-commerce will enter “Survival of the fittest mode.”
Source: comScore – E-commerce retail growth was 51 percent year-on-year as of Nov. 2012.
2. Mobile to increase Internet penetration and usage: As per a recently published report by KPCB, Internet penetration in India stands at 10 percent. With 69.7 million desktop/laptop Internet users, growing at 45 percent (as per comScore, excluding cyber cafe audience) and a whopping 841 percent growth of 3G subscribers (penetration is at 4 percent vs. 18 percent globally), India is already in the driver’s seat to make it big. Smartphone manufacturers like Micromax, Karbonn, Samsung, and Nokia are offering smartphones in the range of 7 to 12 thousand rupees (approx $150 to $200). In the premium segment, Apple and Samsung have already hit a home run with the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S3 respectively. 2013 will see a launch of cheaper tablets and smartphones. Also, better browsing speeds on 3G networks and the introduction to 4G is expected. Investments in mobile display and search campaigns, development of mobile assets (WAP sites and apps) are seen to be a strategic focus adopted by brands and digital advertising agencies. Monetization of mobile platforms is yet to gain traction. Home-grown companies like vserv.mobi ( with the latest launch of its AudiencePro platform) and InMobi (mobile adNetwork founded in 2007 in India) stand to win when this happens in 2013.
Source: Stats counter, Global stats: Mobile traffic surpassed desktop/laptop traffic in 2012.
3. Social media will be put to good use: Social media/networking has grown by 36 percent in the last year with 51 percent growth of unique visitors to Facebook. LinkedIn, the world’s most preferred professional networking site has 7.8 million Indian users (comScore, December 2012). Moreover, social has gone mobile. As per a joint research from Google, MMA, and IAB (http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/mobileplanet/en/), social media in India is accessed more from mobile phones (smartphones, tablets included) than from desktops and laptops. This itself will lead brands to create niche social experiences on mobile platforms.
That being said, brands in India have yet to harness the complete power of social media. 2013 will see a shift in brand ideologies when it comes to social media usage – a shift from getting “Likes” to active consumer engagement, both on the desktop and mobile platforms.
Furthermore, we also see consolidation in the digital advertising industry space, a rise and growth of startup incubators and accelerators, and growth of rural Internet users.
India Inc. seems to be perfectly poised to raise a toast for 2013.