Mobile Trends to Watch in India

Filed in India, LTE by on March 26, 2014 0 Comments

With close to 900 million subscribers and more than 15 million mobile devices sold each month, India has risen to become one of the world’s largest and most dynamic mobile markets. Second only to China, India is home to nearly 13 percent of all global mobile users, with as many as 7 million new subscribers being added each month.

This incredible growth has changed the mobile device from a luxury item to a must-have communication tool in less than a decade. And in the process, it’s revolutionized the ways that the government and business community interact with hundreds of millions of newly mobile-empowered citizens.

My career in mobile has afforded me the opportunity to witness this incredible transformation from a unique perspective. In 2005, I joined Syniverse as the company’s first employee in India and was tasked with launching our in-country operations. Less than 10 years later, Syniverse has grown to over 750 employees in India.

I now see that new technologies and advanced mobile services are creating a fast-moving mobile market that is opening new opportunities for operators and businesses throughout India. Mobile users have gained new consumer power through messaging services and rising smartphone use, and operators and companies are rushing to meet new consumer demands. Yet, in order to capitalize on these opportunities, it’s important to understand some of the dynamics of India’s demographic makeup and technology evolution.

Based on my position at Syniverse and on my experience from having worked in the India market for more than 20 years, I would like to offer a few insights. In looking at how 2014 may unfold, here are three trends that will have a major impact on the mobile market in India:

  • Rural market uptake – While India’s mobile footprint has increased dramatically in the past decade, this growth has happened mostly in urban centers, with cities like New Delhi reaching mobile penetration levels near 200 percent. However, rural areas are a different story. Only about 40 percent of the rural population owns a mobile device, and most of these areas that lack mobile coverage also don’t have wireline Internet access. Because wireline services are impractical in many parts due to infrastructure constraints, these rural areas present tremendous opportunity for mobile uptake. Furthermore, a new National Telecom Policy act passed in 2012 mandates an investment commitment to increase mobile penetration in rural areas to 60 percent by 2017 and 100 percent by 2020.
  • Smartphone adoption – Although smartphone penetration is less than 20 percent in India, a combination of falling prices, faster network speeds and new apps is fueling smartphone adoption at lightning speed. Last year, smartphone shipments more than doubled, to 41.4 million, according to research firm IDC, and by 2015, IDC projects that shipments will exceed 129 million.
  • LTE growth – Although LTE deployment in India is just beginning, the emerging market at stake is staggering. Mobile data users are projected to explode to 77 million by the end of this year, up from just 400,000 in 2009, according to Analysys Mason. These numbers indicate a critical need for LTE capabilities as mobile data use and user expectations continue to soar.

With close to 900 million users and growing, India’s mobile market is poised to continue to accelerate in 2014. As both a mobile professional and an Indian citizen, I look forward to seeing what exciting directions the market moves in next.

What other countries have experienced similar growth, and what do you think are the most important mobile opportunities emerging there? I would love to get your thoughts.







About the Author ()

Sanjay is a former Vice President and Managing Director of Sales in India for Syniverse.

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