Blog Past: Mass-Market Internet

This was the column that began my Tech Talk columns in November 2000. It was a vision to get India to 100 million Internet users in 3 years. Ten years later, we are still at only half that number. This is what I wrote then:

 There are 5 components to building a mass market Internet and making it a utility service:
– Access Device: Multiple options are becoming possible for accessing the Net. What will be the mode of access? Will it be the PC, TV or cellphone?
– Access Network: The telephone company still makes Rs 25/hour when we connect to the Net — significantly more than the ISP itself! Are there alternatives?
– Community Centres: 1 million telephone lines going into PCOs serve the communications needs of 75% of India. Can something similar happen with the Internet in India?
– Payment Systems: Few Indians (about 3 million) have credit cards, fewer are keen on using them on the Net! Can we eliminate billing and use pre-paid? Are smart cards the answer?
– Applications and Services: How many Indian sites make you visit them daily?

28 thoughts on “Blog Past: Mass-Market Internet

  1. Today, the biggest question is not the infrastructure but

    1. SPEED and EASE of Access – unfortunately people still find accessing internet tedious cos replacement of old slow desktops and slow internet connections in their homes and shops is not upto mark with whats possible today and the fat websites with photos and videos further lowers the “experience factor”.

    2. Image of internet is another factor for young and old. Many Indians see time spent online as waste and even not an honorable or respectful thing to be seen on internet most of the time(Yes!).

    3. In the battle between Virtual vs Real Masala(fun) and hawala(business deals), the real thing still wins the day in india.

    The scalable ideas in india are already taken – free news, free music, free porn, free US portals (email, networking, etc), occasional job search, tickets, matchmaking, etc.

    To make matters worse, the credit card companies charge lot of fees to be able to give rise to US like transactional scenarios.

    So, all in all its a game that india can not win. It would squeeze the pure internet play companies being funded to a point where they are not able to size up fast enough to be able to sustain themselves.

    Hardly any indian entrepreneur comes up with an idea thats offers a shift in prospectives – a trend setter with no gaps!!

    However, India has excellent potential for B2B marketplace using internet technologies and real businesses using internet as another medium of customer and vendor interaction.


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