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India gets more Net cool

Emailing, dating and matrimonial connections are among other key drivers of Internet growth, reports Narayanan Madhavan. The Top 10
Hindustan Times | By Narayanan Madhavan
UPDATED ON JUL 06, 2007 04:48 PM IST

So you thought the Internet was an elite activity in India? It may not be true much longer if a survey concluded by an independent consultancy this week is any indication. Nine per cent, or nearly one in 10 urban Indians, now use the Net.

Overall, Internet users in urban India have grown by a healthy 28 per cent over the past year, says a survey by Juxtconsult, which studied growth between April 2006 and 2007 in the country.

There are 30.32 million Internet users now, says the survey that sampled 10,000 households in 31 cities of varying population sizes. The offline survey was followed in May by an online survey of 14,200 responses on usage behaviour and Website preferences.

Results of the survey made available to Hindustan Times says a significant finding is that all sorts of activities and businesses have grown on the Net, though travel has emerged as undisputed leader. Emailing, dating and matrimonial connections are among other key drivers of Internet growth.

“Internet usage in India continues to grow at a slow but steady pace, both in ‘spread’ and ‘depth’. If there are no visible signs of any sweeping or far-reaching growth on the horizon yet, there are no indications of any slowdown either,” Juxtconsult said.

Of the total 30.32 million urban Internet users, 25.17 million, or 83 per cent, are the ‘regular’ users who log on at least once a month and the remaining 5.15 million are 'occasional' users who use the Internet with a lesser frequency than that. Some 20 million Internet users do so on a daily basis.

Juxtconsult says Internet usage is seeing “slow but steady” growth but notices that online buying, especially in travel products, is showing “tremendous growth”. However, software and content in local languages and wider, speedier, affordable connectivity are crucial to drive future growth, it adds.

Here are some nuggets from the survey that shows the changing landscape of the Internet in India.

Offices, schools and colleges continue to be the main point of Net use, up 16 percentage points from last year at 78 per cent.

Cybercafes have dropped out of fashion. Usage is up by only one point at 47 per cent. This could hamper Internet penetration.

Home connections went up to 59 per cent from 40 per cent last year.

Some 77 per cent home users and 74 per cent of office users use broadband, but downloading of Websites is a major object of complaint. Connecting to the Net is also a frequent problem.

Social networking is catching on fast. About 56 per cent users do both social and professional networking on the Web, while 29 per cent do only social networking.

Blogging is less popular. While 27 per cent of all online Indians read or check blogs, 15 per cent of them comment on blogs and only 7 per cent of them have a blog of their own.

Yahoo, with a 30 per cent share, tops brand recall among online sites, but in terms of actual usage, Google tops at 29 per cent. Orkut tops networking at 64 per cent and Yahoo leads instant messaging at 63 per cent.

E-mailing on Yahoo is up by 16 percentage points at 53 per cent. Google search is understandably popular at 75 per cent. at 29 per cent and at 28 per cent are neck and neck in the online marriage game.

Ebay leads shopping sites with 34 per cent popularity. and, at 17 per cent and 16 per cent, lead the online travel sites.

A substantial 84 per cent of the online buyers have bought a travel product online (air tickets, train tickets, hotels and tour packages etc).

In comparison, only 56 per cent of all online buyers have bought a non-travel product online (books, CDs, clothes, electronic gadgets, computer software, hardware, consumer durables etc).

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