The surge in mobile device usage in India has been one of the most interesting trends in recent years. With more Indians than ever before using smartphones and tablets, which devices are most people choosing to buy and what are they doing with them?
What Do People Use These Devices For?
It is no surprise to see that the increasing number of smartphones sold here has led to more internet usage too. Even the cheapest models tend to offer a good enough performance to allow users to go online for a variety of reasons, while the top-performing devices give the user a huge amount of processing power and an excellent visual display.
With more 560 million internet users, India was second only to China on a global basis at the end of last year. This followed on from the report of there being 451 million active internet users earlier in 2019, with younger Indians representing a high percentage of the total. Some sources suggest that this number could have rocketed up to over 740 million by 2020, with more growth expected to come.
Social media use has increased considerably here in the last few years, with around 326 million users at the end of 2018 rising to more than 351 million a year later. The vast majority of them are said to access their accounts through a mobile device and 97% of them watch videos while they are connected. Facebook is the most popular network in the country, with its penetration rate consistently close to 90% in recent years.
Mobile gaming has also become a hugely important part of this market, with over 400 million Indians said to play games on their mobile devices now. A recent study by Opensignal was based on the most popular titles like Call of Duty, Clash Royale and PUBG Mobile, and looked at the cities with the highest mobile gaming experience. They found that Ahmedabad and Mumbai are the top tier 1 cities in this respect.
The rise in mobile usage has also had a positive effect on the entertainment and online casino sector. The Betway site is a prime example of how live dealer games can be streamed on to a mobile device for high-definition images and smooth gameplay. They also confirm that well-known slots such as the Immortal Romance game from Microgaming and NetEnt’s Starburst can be played on a mobile basis on their site, showing how important a role mobile devices are having in allowing the industry to prosper.
It was reported by the India Brand Equity Foundation that online shopping is another area that has benefitted from the nation’s increase in smartphone usage. This market is expected to grow to somewhere in the region of US$99 billion by 2024, which would see it sit behind the US as the world’s second-biggest eCommerce market. This is reflected in initiatives like Amazon’s Great Indian Festival in October 2020.
PayPal reported in 2019 that 88% of consumers in India use smartphones to buy and sell goods. According to their research, 70% of people prefer online shopping with a mobile device, while over 80% of merchants are now optimised to allow mobile shopping of their products.
A Look at the Most Important Figures
If we start by looking at the numbers for 2019, we can see that the Redmi Note 7 Pro was the top-seller in the country that year. A 6.3” Full HD+ display and an 11nm Snapdragon 675 processor helped it to the number one spot, according to Trak. Manufacturer Xiaomi brought out this model and the Redmi Note 7 at the end of February 2019, and by the end of March of that year over a million units of both had been sold in India.
Other models that sold well in 2019 were the budget-priced Realme C2 and 3 phones. The Realme 5 also made a strong impression, as probably the lowest priced quad-camera smartphone sold in the country. Reports suggest that over five million units of the Realme 5 series were sold globally in 2019.
Moving forward to 2020, the first quarter of this year saw Xiaomi out in front with its biggest share of the market in over two years, thanks to a 6% year-on-year growth rate. Vivo grew even more strongly, with the good uptakes on its Y-series of phones leading to a 40% rise from the previous year.
Other big names that remain at the front of this booming industry include Samsung, the maker of the popular Galaxy range of models was third in the first quarter of 2020, and the fast-growing budget brand OPPO. The latter is part of the BBK Electronics Corp group and sales had jumped by 80% in the year to March 2019 before dropping back in 2020.
Across India, there were said to be more than 500 million smartphone users by the end of 2019. Newzoo’s 2019 Global Mobile Market Report put India in second place, behind only China, in the list of countries with most smartphone users, although the 36.7% penetration rate is far behind the likes of almost 83% in the UK and close to 80% in Germany.
The Indian Cellular and Electronics Association teamed up with KPMG to predict that there could be 820 million smartphone users here by 2020, with an annual growth rate of 35% in rural areas helping to fuel this huge increase.
What Does the Future Hold?
All of the signs currently point towards a bright future for the smartphone sector in India. With more people buying powerful new devices and budget models bringing the technology closer to everyone, we will likely see sales continue to increase and more ways of using these devices becoming popular.