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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Democratic & Uniquely Indian Mobile Phone Use

"Smartphones and mobile phones are buzzing in India. And IDC reports that the country is currently among the fastest growing smartphone markets in Asia Pacific." continues IDG Connect.
Photo: IDG Connect

India has seen a 31% sales growth in the first quarter of 2014, which is even higher than China. The year-on-year growth stands at a staggering 186%. And it’s not just about 2014 or the year before that. All kinds of mobile phone sales have been breaking every type of record for several years now.

The IDC report indicates various reasons for this – availability of low-cost devices, sales emphasis of top vendors in the rural areas where traditionally the penetration has been very low, and the introduction of prepaid accounts that allow people with even modest incomes to stay connected. In some instances, they can pay as little as US$0.20 as advance and keep their mobile service active. More than 90% of Indian subscribers now have a prepaid plan. India, incidentally, is an extremely price sensitive market.

Mobile Phones Ushering In Digital Democracy
Mobile telephony is uniting a divided country. The India story is about a tremendous rich-poor divide. There are rich millionaires at the top, but there’s Dharavi too, the biggest slum in the world. In fact there are slums all across the country and close to 40% of the population live below the poverty line. The latest economic data seems to indicate that this rich-poor divide is actually widening in India.

But thankfully, the mobile phone is different. It’s working as the great leveler in divided India. Three out of every four Indians, from college going kids to octogenarians, now have a mobile phone. It is ushering in a tremendous change in the social map of the world’s largest democracy.

It’s not just an urban thing anymore. Mobiles have successfully penetrated deep into the villages as well. It has reached the remotest corners of the country, though the signal strength is often not as good as it ought to be. But service delivery is improving in the country rapidly. And so, people now have more confidence in getting a mobile phone, and finally, they are finding a cheap and practical way of staying connected. In fact, getting a mobile phone has become quite a priority for a lot of people in India, particularly those living in the more remote areas, because it is a key connector.

Robin Jeffrey, a professor from Canada, says in his “Cell Phone Nation: How mobile phones changed India” lecture series… “The cheap mobile has brought fishermen in Kerala, boatmen in Banaras, great capitalists in Mumbai and politicians and bureaucrats in New Delhi on the same platform, ensuring a democratic equality in communications”. The lecture series was organized by the Cellular Operators Association of India.

The professor also says in his lectures that mobile phone revolution in India has been peculiar. No country in the world has experienced one quite like it.

Source: IDG Connect