India, Internet and Youth

My colleague, Veer Bothra, has started writing for CNet Asia. He writes in his first column:

More than 50 percent of India’s population are below the age of 25. That is over 500 million people, nearly twice the population of the US.

India’s great strength is its people–technology-savvy youth, English-speaking skilled manpower, a large pool of engineering talent and one of the world’s largest domestic markets. The number of people in the working age group will increase by 250 million from 2003 to 2020. Its 250+ universities and 10,000+ colleges produce more than three million graduates each year.

The installed base of PCs and adoption of Internet in India leave a lot to be desired. Out of nearly 200 million households, only about five million have a PC. Fewer of those have an Internet connection, while broadband is just getting started. Most of the 38 million Internet users are from cybercafes, for whom being online is sporadic and not an integral part of their life. Connection speed of 256Kbps is considered as broadband. Even after 11 years of Internet, online activity is largely restricted to jobs and matrimonial sites, email and chat. The top two portals are still advertising “better email” as their USP (unique selling point).

The low installed base of PCs is countered by a large and fast-growing user base of mobiles. Out of the 100 million mobile phones, nearly a third are GPRS-capable. Indian users are mobile-savvy, networks are data-ready, handsets are feature-rich, market size is humongous, and therefore market potential and room for innovation are high.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.