Mobile Internet in India: How big is it really?

As of September 2009 India had 471 million mobile users.

The December 2009 report from IAMAI on Mobile Internet in India says,

  • Mobile is emerging as the potential point of access for low PC and high mobile penetrated Indian market, although the present usage is restricted to 4% of total Active Internet user base.
  • 2 million users access internet from their mobile phones at least once a month
  • 27% or approx 127 million mobile users have internet-ready mobile devices. Of these only 9.4% or 12 million users have accessed the internet at least once in last one year.
  • 70% of the mobile internet users fall into the age group of 18-35, which seems to be the case for PC internet user base too.
  • 60% of the mobile internet users use chatting, social networking sites, mobile blogging, search.

SMS portals are a lot more popular than WAP portals in India, simply because everyone has access to SMS and not everyone is subscribing to internet on mobile.

While most reports talk about the number of mobile-internet ready handsets, very few talk about the exact number of users who have subscribed to mobile internet in India. I think the service is way too expensive. I was subscribing to the AirtelLive service, it was very slow. Finally I signed up for Rs 899 (unlimited data transfer) on my Blackberry, the experience is surely better. But how many in India will want to spend more than Rs 100-200 a month to access the internet on their mobile handsets?

Oneindia’s mobi portal – – has seen an increase in traffic over the last 2 years but nothing earth shattering. I have heard/read about people making a lot of money from mobi portals in India. I think I am missing something, we haven’t seen that kind of increase in revenues on our mobi portal.

Access Google from your mobile and search for something like ‘kannada news’, it must show first the results from mobi portals, instead you get the results from the normal web portals. Let us not start the argument – “There isn’t sufficient content on mobi portals”. Most of us are publishing for the web and mobi simultaneously.

In a nutshell, mobile internet users are still not aware of the existence of mobi portals. Only search engines can help increase the popularity of the existing mobi portals in India.

Would love to hear from others on how they are monetizing from their mobi portals (other than the traditional Google Adsense and AdMob)

Also see,

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