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Behaviors amongst Urban Indian Smartphone Users

On April 28th, Ericsson ConsumerLab released a new report titled “The Changing Mobile Broadband Landscape” which highlights the evolving mobile broadband adoption and usage in urban India. Some of the key highlights of the study are as follows:

Urban Indian Smartphone Users

  1. Amount of mobile internet users growing substantially, with four times the number of users over the age of 50, and three times the amount of middle aged users being added in the past two years.
  2. Three in five smartphone users is using mobile broadband in urban India
  3. With the decrease in smartphone prices, the adoption of mobile internet within the lower socio-economic segment has increased over the last two years: from 38 percent in 2013 to 45 percent in 2015
  4. Mid-size and small cities are showing higher smartphone penetration levels at 33 percent, as opposed to the smartphone penetration levels of 27 percent in big non-metros and large cities
  5. 70 percent of mobile broadband smartphone users regularly stream videos on their smartphones, and 61 percent use social networking
  6. The convenience and improved experience makes e-commerce services attractive to Indian smartphone users. Of those users not using e-commerce services currently, 58 percent stated that they would begin to do so in the next six months while 52 percent will use the internet to pay bill online
  7. Services like location navigation while traveling and cloud storage are also seeing an upswing in usage.
  8. 63 percent of users report that they face quality and reliability issues, such as lost connections and inconsistent network speeds, when using mobile networks indoors. Additionally, these problems are primarily reported by urban users.
  9. App-related issues while outdoors or commuting, such lengthy lag times, apps taking a long time to refresh, maps failing to load, and session failures affect 68 percent of consumers. Additionally, these issues are primarily reported by rural users.
  10. 88 percent of Indian consumers on 2G feel that mobile broadband is too expensive. 53 percent feel that mobile broadband adds no value and as many as 48 percent believe there is no difference between 2G and 3G speeds.
  11. Only 10 percent of mobile internet users feel they understand their plan correctly and can make an accurate judgment when deciding on a plan

Due to the heterogeneous nature of the Indian populace, the study required segmentation of consumer groups into seven categories. Each group demands a separate nature of service and support system, and serves to  of the diverse needs a service provider must cater to:

  1. Female Homemakers – Usage of services in this category is primarily indoors and oriented to the consumer’s need to stay in contact with her children. Because consumption revolves around school-going children, the customer requires the flexibility to change her plan in accordance with the schedule of the child. Customer support is paramount, as the user is not necessarily empowered with knowledge of the service she is wielding.
  2. Conservative Seniors – Utilizes the service primarily to reach out to family and loved ones. In addition to customer support, service education, account management, and a simple purchase process are needed for this category of users.
  3. Prudent Business Users – Lower middle-class employees who have begun to adopt technology to simplify operations. For example, a kurta maker no longer needs to be supervised. He can simply send images of his progress to his supervisor over WhatsApp and other channels.
  4. Image Conscious Socialites – Multiple age groups whose data consumption is primarily multimedia over a social
  5. Tech Enthusiasts – An audience in their late teens and early twenties who are techno savvy and willing to embrace technology. However, their spending power is limited, and they tend to toggle services in view of exploration.
  6. Progressive Aspirers – Early twenties to early thirties audience looking to integrate technology into their professional lives
  7. Technosumers – By far, the primary category driving sales. Mid thirties to late fifties professionals looking to utilize technology in a myriad of ways.

As part of the report launch, a lively panel discussion was held with Pawan Agarwal – Business Head of Gaana, Kishore Thota – Amazon India Marketing Head, and Ajay Gupta – Vice President, Strategy and Marketing of Ericsson. The panel discussed the growing trend of a mobile first strategy for applications across industries. An exemplification of the same is Flipkart’s announcement that by the next year, the company’s services would be available on mobile only. When put on the spot, Kishore Thota said Amazon currently had no such plans and would maintain its principles of offering the choice to the customer. Pawan Agarwal emphasized the growth of paid streaming, as demonstrated by the success of Gaana. However, he also added that it is not cannibalizing downloadable content as downloadable content was never a market in India to begin with. Instead, he says, paid streaming is slowly chipping away at piracy.

Amongst other topics of discussion was the need to automate better self-care in the form of differentiation between failed transactions and incomplete transactions. For example, a net-banking user must indeed receive a call if a money transfer failed, but mustn’t receive the same call for an intentional halt of the transaction. Digital marketing, an exploding field, was also debated. Regarding the value of mass media, the panel was divided. Mr. Pavan Agarwal pointed out that for startups looking to reach out to audiences of scale, mass media was still the way to go while digital media is powerful in reaching out to niche audiences.


Nikhil kashyap

An engineer by degree, a gamer by interest and a journalist by exploration. Video games, Short films, News, Documentaries. Blending different narrative mediums, all in the quest to understand how to tell a compelling story.

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