Shweta Mulki

"Recent internet growth in India is unlike anything in the history of commercial internet", says Google's Rajan Anandan

Internet user base to touch 650 million in 2020; Data and smartphone pricing as well as regional languages continue to drive growth.

At an event to celebrate Google India's 'premier partners', Rajan Anandan, the company's vice president for Southeast Asia and India, spoke about the current key drivers for internet penetration in the country. He noted that data and smartphone prices as well as the rise of Indic (Indian languages), will continue impact growth.

"In 2011, we had 100 million users with about 10-15 million daily active users – we are at 300 million total users today, and expect 650 million internet users by 2020," he said, adding that the future consumer- across industries, will be 'very, very active online'.

"Recent internet growth in India is unlike anything in the history of commercial internet", says Google's Rajan Anandan
Rajan Anandand

He attributed the above growth to couple of things. One was smartphone penetration which, he said will touch 500 million connected users by 2020, as the cost barriers kept getting crossed. "When we crossed the first big barrier- the Rs 10,000 one, we went from 10 million to 150 million smartphone users. The next was about three years ago was the sub Rs 6000 one". Our next price tag we will cross is probably Rs 2000-2500 one," he said.

Citing the Reliance Jio data pricing as the other significant driver, Anandan noted the steep fall from the time when data would cost Rs 250/GB, to mass plans now starting at Rs 10/GB.

"Our teams had assumed there would be a significant dip in consumption once Jio started charging for internet access. But, there was only a slight drop for a couple of weeks and usage has increased, because of other carriers dropping prices", Anandan observed. For Internet companies globally, the growth in India in the past two years is unlike anything in the history of commercial internet, he added.

He also noted that the overall mobile data consumption in India today is actually higher than China, which has around 800 million mobile internet users, but added that China however had wired broadband too.

Anandan also emphasised on the continued rise of Indic or Indian languages as a growth driver for internet in India. "Last year, non-English search queries grew 10 times faster than English. Non-English content consumption is growing 5 times faster than English content. Now, almost every single new user that comes to the Internet is not proficient in English, and as India goes from 400 to 650 million users, they will consume the internet in their own language," he said.

"Recent internet growth in India is unlike anything in the history of commercial internet", says Google's Rajan Anandan
Rajan Anandan at Google Premier Partners Awards

Touching upon online video content, Anandan said that watch time in India has grown 400 per cent YoY, and is now the second largest market in terms of watch time for YouTube. "There's been 90 per cent growth in uploaded content, and 65 per cent of YouTube content is consumed on mobile," he said, also claiming that if one looked at reach in urban India, YouTube is ahead of TV.

Anandan also spoke of e-commerce (for products) which he said would touch $200 billion by 2025 from $17 billion in 2016). "It would still be significantly smaller than China which reported a Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) of $750 billion last year. If you think about e-commerce as a five-match test series, we are in the first day of the first test," he said.

Anandan was speaking at first edition of Google's Indian Premier Partner Awards held in Mumbai. Among Google's premier partner agencies and professionals, there were five winners who have best used its products and/or other digital strategies and platforms, for their marketing goals and creating outstanding results for clients.

Interactive Avenues won the Search Innovation Award for leveraging Google Search to communicate Sprite's message. Social Beat Digital Marketing LLP won the Display Innovation Award for its brand building and lead generation campaign for Casa Grande. Dentsu Aegis Network India was the winner of the Mobile Innovation Award for its aggressive digital marketing campaign for Sokrati bagged the Shopping Innovation Award for its innovative campaign for Pipa Bella, and O3M Directional Marketing won the Growing Businesses Online Award for its work on Johnson Lifts.