With an expected increase of mobile subscribers by more than 50 percent until 2020, India is the global growth champion. The country’s smartphone penetration is at a low 22 percent level and there’s massive room for development. Added to this is an endless enthusiasm for the mobile companions. People in India love their smartphones and literally cannot live without them. 92 percent have their device on them day and night.
India is on its way to becoming the most populated country on earth. It was only recently that an academic attracted attention by declaring India to be the country with the most residents. Of the 1.3 billion people living in India, just under half have a mobile connection, which, when looking at the percentage, doesn’t sound like very much. However, the absolute numbers do impress. Back in 2015, the GSMA counted 616 million mobile subscribers on the subcontinent. This made India already the second-largest mobile market behind China and ahead of the US.
India Is the Fastest Growing Smartphone Market in the World
It is this growth perspective that will make India the most exciting global market in the coming years. 330 million new mobile users are expected by 2020, meaning India would have just under 1 billion subscribers. The backlog in the smartphone sector is particularly huge, which, in turn, translates to 1:1 growth opportunities for the mobile industry. Just 22 percent of the population are currently in possession of a smartphone. However, the mobile companions are rapidly capturing the nation. While growth in established markets is expected to be in the low single-digit percentage range, smartphone sales in India are expected to grow by as much as 30 percent annually. India is now officially the fastest growing smartphone market in the world.
Smartphone dependency is growing as smartphone penetration increases. Our Smartphone & IoT Consumer Trends 2017 global study which we recently carried out, showed that people in India, like in hardly any other country, are addicted to their mobile devices. 29 percent of Indian Millennials spend more than five hours a day on their smartphone and 31 percent check it more than 100 times a day. 92 percent have their smartphones on them both day and night.
For Many Indians, the Smartphone Is the Only Interface to the Digital World
Messaging, social media, online shopping – unlike in many western markets, the smartphone as a mobile all-rounder is the only access to the digital world for many. 60 percent of Internet users had their first online experience while using their smartphone. For a long time, India has been a market in which providers gained share at low price points, but our study shows a differentiated picture. While 64 percent spent less than $100 for their current device, less than 2 percent would spend this little on their next smartphone. There is a booming demand in the mid-range segment with smartphones offering all the latest features and functions combined with neat design and a brand appeal that attracts a younger urban generation.
In addition to this, there is the growing enthusiasm for new IoT devices especially among the urban population. From virtual reality headsets to the transformation of your own home into a smart home, people who already got used to technology want to connect everything in their lives. Dependence on technology will continue to rise with the arrival of consumer IoT devices. This is accompanied by a development that we observe also in other markets: The more people use their devices, the greater the need for seamless customer care.
Personal Customer Care in the Shop Ranks High on the Popularity Scale
Although digital transformation is quickly advancing, people in India prefer traditional service channels. Walk-in service centers are the first port of call when a device doesn’t work. Our own experience confirms this: We are investing heavily in the Indian market and operate one of the most advanced customer care ecosystems in the country with 240 walk-in service centers. In these we offer personal support and fast repairs on behalf of brands such as Samsung, Apple, Motorola, Xiaomi, OnePlus and Nubia. Our new video will give you a hands-on impression.
Yet from the mobile brands’ point of view, India is a demanding customer care market because most people cannot do without their smartphone. 35 percent would rather give up their favourite food for a year than give up their smartphone, and 8 percent would even be willing to go to jail. If a repair is needed, Indian smartphone users expect quick help. Consumers we surveyed deemed a waiting time of 48 hours acceptable. In reality, repairs can still take up to 20 days, meaning there is still a lot to do in one of the most exciting smartphone markets in the world.
Summary: For global tech giants such as Apple and Samsung and for challenger brands such as Xiaomi, OnePlus and Nubia, India is the most exciting smartphone market. Growth rates in the double-digit range and a population that is addicted to smartphones promise positive development in the long run. In addition, there is an increasing demand for consumer IoT devices, which gives further boost to digitalisation. For us at B2X, India is one of the most important markets ever – write to us and follow us on LinkedIn!
Maximilian Grabmayr is CEO India and Melville Fernandes is COO India at B2X.