Mobile Penetration: Aiding Digitization & Impacting Lives
Director - Brand Strategy, Vivo India
Vivo India is a global smartphone company which develops & manufactures smartphones, smartphone accessories, software, and online services.
Over the past few years, India has witnessed a widespread adoption of technologies with mobile being the most prevalent. Today, smartphones have become an indispensable part of our lives and deeply ingrained across the spectrum of activities we undertake – whether it’s online utility payments, shopping or even knowledge gathering. The Indian Government’s active focus on ‘Digital India’ has led to the introduction of various services & apps with mobile phones being the mainstay of this digitization.
A PAN India revolution
This national migration towards digitization has traversed across both the urban and rural populations of the country, with smartphones providing a popular gateway towards accessing the internet. For many, smartphones have been the first screen, which has given them a glimpse of the world. India is currently home to around 300 million smartphone users. This number is expected to touch 500 million by the end of 2018. In tandem, internet penetration continues to rise in the country at a steady pace with mobile internet and first-time internet users being the driving force behind this.
Conservative estimates forecast a 55 percent rise in the usage of internet in the country by 2020. Industry figures report that Indians spend an average of around 4.5 hours a day accessing the internet on their smartphones, about 37 percent more than the time they spend watching television! However, a comparison between urban and rural usage of internet paints an interesting picture. While 86 percent of urban India uses the internet for online communication services, in contrast, 58 percent of rural India uses the internet for entertainment. Post demonetization, financial transactions on smartphones spurred across all age groups from 25-35 (94-97 percent), 35-45 (88-95 percent) and 45-55 (68-90 percent).
The government too has taken the lead to develop and roll-out app-based services that allow democratization of information and easy access to public services. A prime example of the usage of smartphone based applications can be seen in the agricultural sector in the country. India
is primarily an agrarian economy and represents a significant portion of the GDP. Empowering this section of the economy is extremely important to inclusive economic growth. A number of agritech solutions deployed by the government use smartphone based applications to deliver precision farming, postharvest technology, smart machines and e-Commerce solution to farmers. Additionally, financial transactions through smartphones are promoting financial security to ensure fair trade and profit to farmers in India's hinterland.
"The Trinity Of Smartphones, Internet And Application-Based Services Promises Unending Opportunities For Improving The Quality Of Life For People"
The healthcare sector presents another example of effective smartphone deployment to manage the high traffic of patients in India's healthcare facilities. Smartphone and cloud-based apps have made it easier for healthcare providers to optimize resources and workflows to deliver better and in some cases collaborative healthcare.
The Road Ahead
The trinity of smartphones, internet and application-based services promises unending opportunities for improving the quality of life for people. This combination has now evolved to become a tool for national integration, economic inclusion, social empowerment and global outreach. The recent decision by the government on demonetization acted as a catalyst to highlight the convenience and efficacy of internet-based applications built on the platform of the ubiquitous smartphone for everyday needs. It is a known fact today that demonetization was instrumental in increasing the prevalence of digital payments through smart and feature phone-based applications.
The onus now lies on us - the government and industry to pursue innovations that propel the ecosystem to create inclusive technology and solutions for socio-economic empowerment. However, to achieve this, we need to have three clear objectives.
1. Committed Innovation to Increase Affordability: This will allow the value to trickle down to consumers, thereby enriching their lives by enabling them to achieve more.
2. Optimization of Infrastructure to Generate Seamless Connectivity: An always on, reliable and scalable infrastructure will be needed to support the growing number of internet and smartphone users in the country.
3. Collaboration & Co-Creation between Industry, Government & Academia: Innovation and future preparedness in a cohesive manner will only be possible if all three stakeholders use their expertise towards a common goal. Additionally, the reliance on digital services will also require the need for increased security – an area where this public-private-academic partnership can offer the best solution possible.
Mobile phones have presented a great potential to have a life-altering effect on the population and further propel the ‘Digital India’ growth story. The increasing internet penetration, high proliferation of mobile devices along with a supportive ecosystem will significantly contribute towards enhancing job opportunities, improving literacy and healthcare in the country at large.