Being Mobile Indian and Standing up to the World

Being mobile possibly has different connotations now.  Getting away from the cacophony of the 24×7 media is nothing more than a mirage when you realize that the most powerful device ever created by the mankind is always within your reach – your ‘smart’ phone.

 Mobile fills the crucial gap in the society’s hierarchy of communication  needs & its manifestations.

Starting from the bottom in early 1990’s, it has witnessed massive growth by the year 2013 to become a truly revolutionary addition to our lives. By 2015 – it had toppled governments, stirred rebellions, boosted the porn consumption like never before (60% of PornHub traffic comes from Mobile and a lot of it has to do with India who likes to keep a pace with the USA), made media conglomerates run for their money (for e.g. Newsweek and UK based The Independent opting for digital only versions and shutting down their print publications) and brought video and image based content in our lives, thanks to a whole generation of cats – grumpy or otherwise.

I believe, something truly remarkable is happening when Sunil Kalra, a cloth merchant in Jalandhar’s Rianak Bazaar gets bulk orders from walk-in customers after showing them Whatsapp images of the shipment from their Lucknow supplier.

It’s a known fact that technology’s rate of adoption varies through the generations and mobile has aided this in the Indian context, unlike any other factor in the recent history.

The generation of Sunil Karla born in the 1960’s took quite a bit of learning curve to become mobile savvy. However, this generation of baby boomers (1945-1960) has given way to Gen Y (1981-1999), who are more of creators and collaborators in their online mobile persona, becoming the most expressive humankind ever. Though Facebook mobile still rules in overall numbers globally and with life-saving acquisitions like Whatsapp and Instagram – mobile apps have become second home screen to their owners who are likely to use messengers and social media to communicate rather than a phone call. According to Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report 2016, mobile savvy Gen Y would prefer contact over internet & web-chat (24%), social media (24%), a drastic shift from previous five decades where telephone was the most popular medium.

A lot of it has also to do with the economics and sociability that owning a mobile offers.

The average price of a smartphone in India is just under Rs. 10,000 and cheaper options keep getting added with influx of Chinese players. This means that there is more need to consume content that is contextual and resonates with the local issues. That is where the real battle of capturing the Indian users’ mobile screen space (read mind space) will be fought through 2020 and beyond for 1 billion Indian mobile users.

Though total number of Internet users for India stood far behind at 277 million users (that’s 22% penetration rate) – 40% jump from 2008 and YoY growth of 33% (source: IAMAI), it will get even more exciting when the entire billion plus mobile owners make a shift to a smartphone! Need for Internet connectivity and mobile ownership are fuelling each other’s growth.

For the ones who have already crossed over, there is a constant struggle and search for the right content – be it entertainment or educational in nature as a packaged product of storytelling ready to grab eyeballs, and most of them are / will be delivered through native mobile apps. Globally, according to a SimilarWeb report, on an average, there are 33 apps installed per device. Though, just 3 of these account for 80%+ usage with 4 hours/day being dedicated to it. Any guesses which are the most popular ones? Well, it’s Facebook, Whatsapp and world’s favorite browser – Chrome.

Accordingly to Think With Google (Google’s initiative to offer insights, trends and research on digital marketing) – “Mobile has forever changed what we expect of brands. It has fractured the consumer journey into hundreds of real-time, intent-driven micro-moments. Each is a critical opportunity for brands to shape our decisions and preferences.”

How do you think the rise of mobile Indians has changed your life?

Share your views  with me on Twitter- @Wvishal

Courtesy: Image by Javi_indy –



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