From an agencyfaqs interview with Manish Agarwal, vice president, marketing, Rediff.com: “21-25 million is the number of active users in the last month; 35-38 million is figure for the last three months and 72 million is the figure for people who have ever used the internet…The growth of the online industry is about 25 per cent. ”
Knowledge@Wharton features a talk by Gordon Wu which could have useful lessons for India:
China has $1.2 trillion of foreign exchange reserves today. Back in 1978, 20% of the people lived in the communes. Everybody was equal, but equally poor. Today we are talking about some people who make a lot of money. Now, 43% of the people live in cities and within the next 20 years, I bet your bottom dollar that the number of people living in cities in China will be the greatest migration that the world has ever seen. Urbanization will probably hit a figure of 80%. This is unheard of, in my mind. I’ll give you an example: When I first went to Shenzhen to work there in 1979, there were only 80,000 people in that city. Today it has 10 million people. That is the number of people who have migrated to the city in the past 20 years.
China’s economic growth was driven by the manufacturing industry. Of course, the country also has a really stable government; the Communist Party controls the whole nation, and sometimes there are some hiccups, but by and large things are really stable. The stable political environment combined with a free economy as free as the government allows it to be has made all these successes possible.
Om Malik writes:
Necessity, they say is the mother of invention. It couldnt be more true in case of Africa, where pre-paid airtime is fast becoming the virtual currency for Pan-African trade, overcoming conventional currency exchange and lack of banking infrastructure. It started out as phone users in Nigeria, especially in the rural areas trading minutes, but then the transactions took a mercantile trend.
Instead of paying cash, people started paying in airtime. Minutes became moolah and since the trend has caught on, and is being used for cross border trade as well.
The Economist writes: “India needs a period of slower growth to reduce these excesses and this requires higher interest rates. Constrained by politicians, the RBI’s tightening has been timid. In the past year interest rates have risen by less than the rate of inflation has, so rates have fallen in real terms. Relative to consumer-price inflation, the overnight lending rate of 7.75% is close to zero in real terms. That is much lower even than China’s real benchmark lending rate of 3.6% (only China’s deposit rates are lower). Indeed, India probably has the lowest real interest rates of any major economy, despite having one of the world’s fastest growth rates. Without more tightening, expect the sweltering heat to continue.”
WSJ writes about a Nokia service that teaches English to China’s mobile users:
Nokia Corp. launched a service that enables Chinese to download English language lessons using their mobile phones, an effort by the world’s biggest cellphone maker to tap into a growing fascination with English in the world’s top wireless market.
Nokia plans to charge users for the new, made-for-China service, called Mobiledu, which it launched yesterday. The service, which includes both audio- and text-based lessons, aims to capitalize on China’s enormous language-learning market, which has been growing quickly as Chinese embrace global business and prepare for an influx of foreign visitors during next year’s Olympic games in Beijing.
The lack of power is the cover story in a recent issue of Business World. The New York Times also joins in:
[The] electricity crisis…represents one of the major hurdles to Indias ability to hoist itself into the front ranks of the global economy.
Look up at the tops of buildings, and on any given day, you are likely to find three, four or six smokestacks poking out of each, blowing gray-black plumes into the clouds. If the smokestacks are being used, it means the power is off and the building whether bright new mall, condominium or office is probably being powered by diesel-fed generators.
According to the Planning Commission of India, 600 million people roughly half the population are off the electric grid. For this reason, it is impossible to estimate accurately the total national shortfall.
But no matter how it is calculated, there is no doubt that Indias electricity crisis is becoming all the more acute for the roaring pace of the countrys economic growth and the new material aspirations it has generated.
China Web2.0 Review summarises:
# As of March 2007, there were about 39 million active wap users in China, they used mobile handsets to access WAP sites in last six months. About 90% among them are internet users as well, they access internet via PC in last six months.
# Most of the WAP users (over 60%) live in east of China, the concentration rate of WAP users are higher than that of internet users and mobile subscribers.
# About 9.7 million, or about one forth of total WAP users, live in Guangdong Province.
# 57% users will use WAP at least once a week.
# 26% users pay RMB 11-20 yuan per month for WAP usage, 23% users pay 21-50 yuan and 20% users pay 6-10 yuan.
Jorge Frayer writes about the good and the bad from his recent India trip:
The internal airline service is superb. Hot meals, a smiling crew, on time, new and clean planes, and a large choice of airlines. The other is the relatively few number of beggars that can be seen in Mumbai. It is as if people are too busy making money and begging is no longer lucrative.
For the majority of people, life in India continues to be very harsh with few material rewards. Today 5% of India can afford to do just about anything, 25% can get by comfortably and the rest live in material poverty. Their high tolerance, low expectations, plenty of great food and rich social structures lets the majority of India continue to live in peaceful coexistence.
However, it is this general sense of tolerance and low expectations that may be working against India in rebuilding its grossly inadequate infrastructure, virtually untouched since the British left after the second war. Inefficiencies in local governments add to the lack of progress and modernization. There is little sense of planning of public works and no sense of scheduling. Things begin and are left incomplete, to hopefully get restarted in the near future. India seems to lack the standards and practices to rebuild and expand its infrastructure.
The New York Times writes:
[If] the [Indian] government has its way, Nagpur will become a destination city itself. In an experiment that is highly unusual for this most unplanned of countries, the government is doling out money to Nagpur and other second tier cities to help them modernize fast.
The plan is to provide the kind of modern conveniences, and infrastructure, that will attract more international investors to India. In doing so, the government is following the lead of China, where the government has invested in infrastructure such as roads and airports, taking a build-it-and-they-will-come approach that has drawn foreign corporations helping to fuel the countrys boom.
Users in emerging markets also want to see more value from PC vendors, said Bryan Ma, director of personal systems research at IDC Asia-Pacific, citing the success of Nokia’s 1100 handset, which has been a hit in India because it includes a flashlight — a useful feature in a country that suffers from frequent power outages.
“At the end of the day it’s not the technology or the device, it’s the application people are looking for,” Ma said.
One application that has proven popular in many emerging markets is access to commodity prices, which lets farmers and fishermen know when and where they can get the best prices for their goods. Other popular applications include communications, such as video conferences that allow people to speak face-to-face over the Internet, and access to government services, he said.