“A child in India grows up with the idea that you have to make choices that will create a better future. In fact, your whole life is a continuum of choices, so the more conscious you are, the greater your life will be.”
Having just got back from speaking at Conferences in Shanghai and Seoul, and been thrilled by the speed of change, the rapidly expanding skills base and the sheer positive energy of everyone I met there, my thoughts have turned to another Asian ‘Tech Tiger’: India.
According to the latest figures from We Are Social, North America has 5% of the world’s population, 11% of all internet users, 11% of world Social Media users and 5% of all Mobile Subscribers on the planet, whereas the figures for South Asia are 23%, 8%, 6% and 18%.
The contrast between these 2 sets of stats, for me, has opportunity written all over it. India is coming with a rush and the future is Social and Mobile. Unlike some other fast-growth countries, India warmly welcomes the US global players and Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter are already firmly established in the Subcontinent.
Approx. 120 million Indians have web access, i.e. less than 10% of the Indian population. It will be interesting to watch how fast the next 50, 60, 70% of Indians (who collectively make up one sixth of the world population) get online.
India doesn’t and will never need physical broadband infrastructure on the same scale as Europe or the US. Instead India will leapfrog much of the technology that Westerners have taken for granted over the last few decades and instead build very powerful networks to handle the massive load of all these Indian users and businesses. So the new Indian Internet will be low-cost, state-of-the-art and mobile. In other words it’s the future; India will give a lead to other developing countries and even shake up the old ‘digital pioneer’ countries with their 20th century legacy internet baggage…
The Indian Digital ecosystem is already growing rapidly and this will continue; driven by availability of low-cost mobile networks and handsets, a skilled workforce and a rapidly expanding Professional Middle Class.
A big factor in the last decade has been the arrival of the modest-cost mobile phone for the developing world. People who don’t have TVs or refrigerators, do have mobile phones; increasingly smartphones. Or at least someone in their village has one.
Technology is a declining cost industry and manufacturers are acutely aware of the massive untapped volume in the Indian market. In a couple of years it will very likely be possible to offer mid-range smartphones to the Indian people at price points below $50.
Even if it’s just one phone per village, this will be a massive change. There will be increasing access to Wi-Fi hotspots and the ability to be mobile between them; all this will be life-changing; providing access to the world’s information to millions more Indian people.
This will happen in India because of the quality of the people, the educational system and, of course, the huge domestic market. New start-ups will cater for Indian taste, Indian style, Indian sport e.g. Cricket. There are many areas where Indian culture (arts, music, movies) and local languages, will drive an Indian solution. Many of these companies will prosper and some may even expand internationally.
India (and Indians) can certainly do it. One of the founders of Sun Microsystems was Vinod Khosla who is Indian and McKinsey have estimated that 40 percent of today’s Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are Indian born (and increasingly educated).
India has a highly capable, skilled workforce, a rapidly growing tech-hungry market and a wealth of talented, highly-educated entrepreneurs. As a technology (and digital marketing) superpower, India’s time is just beginning. We’re going to see a lot more of these guys, offline and online!
Mike Berry is an internationally-recognised digital marketing lecturer, trainer and keynote speaker. He is running 2-day Training Workshops in New Delhi and London this year; tickets available now.