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Deepesh Gupta

Deepesh Gupta is CEO of Zen Mobiles, a fast growing Indian manufacturer of affordable smartphones

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The Budget Smartphone will Win in a Fast Growing Digital India

Tier 2, 3 and rural areas are where the smartphone adoption will increase. Guess what category of smartphone will be most in demand in these regions?

Photo Credit : Wall Street Journal,

There has been a dramatic shift in the way new age consumers interact and engage with one another. Smartphones have become an omnipresent tool which dictates how consumers access information or purchase products and services. According to Counterpoint Research, with over 220 million users, India in 2016 became the second largest smartphone market, surpassing United States. This upsurge will be witnessed on the back device being available at competitive price points and consumers upgrading from feature phones to smart devices.

Added to that, riding on evolved content consumption patterns, India’s internet penetration is now expected to reach 50 percent by 2018, according to a study by IAMAI. With urban India already supporting the digital era, small cities and towns are expected to be the hub for the next wave of smartphone adoption.

Tier 2, Tier 3 and rural areas are where the smartphone adoption will increase, over the next few years, and as LTE penetration continues to grow, initial estimates hint towards India being home to almost a billion smartphone users by 2021. Going by the 2011 census, 906 million people reside in rural India, and out of that, only 163 million are internet users. These figures clearly point to the fact that the consumer’s content consumption pattern is changing with the internet led mobile penetration. Inexpensive smartphones and the rollout of 3G and 4G broadband infrastructure are rapidly coming together to leapfrog traditional distribution and democratize online access.

Reaping the benefit of Digital India

Digital India acts as a catalyst in the growth that encompasses offering Internet access to all, by promoting digital literacy, building robust infrastructure, delivering innovative content and services from web and mobile phones. The Government during this year’s budget announcement, took another important step where it allocated rupees 10,000 crore for expanding the BharatNet project in FY18, with the intent to get rural India under mobile coverage with internet connectivity.

Also, as part of a recent initiative called ‘Digital Village’, the government is deploying free Wi-Fi in 1050 rural villages in the country. The enormous potential digital inclusivity offers means that bold steps need to be taken. While measures taken by the government are certainly a step towards the right direction, the mobile industry and other key stakeholders need to work together to ensure that everyone realize the benefits of mobile services.

Low cost 4G Internet connectivity

The massive adoption of affordable smartphones is allowing the users to carry their digital world with them. Low cost data and free accessibility to the internet via WiFi in many areas, is fascinating smartphone users like never before. It is also expected that 4G revolution will trigger the next wave of smartphone growth as it has already overtaken 3G devices as the largest smartphone category in rural as well as semi- urban India.

Increased demand for relevant and affordable local content

The growth in the number of mobile internet users in India and the mobile data consumption in 2016 was largely influenced by the adoption of smartphone and rich media content. Today, traditional services like SMS, voice are gradually being substituted by mobile data services such as social media, chat, video, email and apps. Such content is gaining momentum due to its ability to fulfill diverse needs of consumers, not only in urban cities, but also in rural India. Over the period of time, absence of multi-language support feature has been a major stumbling block in unleashing the full power of smartphones.

Today, there are smartphone players like Zen, Micromax and Lava which are offering consumer the convenience and language inhibitions, thereby helping them to unlock the benefits of the connected world in their preferred native language. These 4G VoLTE devices have multiple regional language support functionality and come at very affordable price.

With the growing concentration of internet, affordability and growth of digital network in the rural regions, smartphones will provide a platform that would allow consumers to overcome constraints and drive the next wave of the digital revolution. Smartphones today, are the key to getting the next billion people on the internet and as this revolution continues, connecting a billion more will soon be a reality.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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