Dotcom reality: Nothing cyber about cafes

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NEW DELHI: India’s great internet dream which sank the hopes and dollars of hundreds of ambitious dotcoms in the early 2000s could finally be turning into reality.

More than half of Indians who access the internet reside not in the metros but outside India’s eight largest cities, or in other words, in Tier II and III cities. This changing scenario not only reflects the pace of internet and telecom penetration in the country but also the huge opportunity that exists for marketers across non-metros.

So, when online research & advisory firm JuxtConsult ‘India Online 2007’ surveyed 10,000 offline households in 31 cities countrywide, it reflected sharply on the online behaviour of Indians. In a two-part series, ET presents the big picture.

Internet penetration is steadily making inroads into the hinterland and getting broader in its socio-economic manifestation (SEC). If 66% users came from SEC ‘A’ and ‘B’ classes in 2006, only 56% come from these classes now.
Internet is no more child’s play. Perhaps that explains why the internet user-age is getting broadbased.

If the 19-35 year age groups accounted for 76% users last year, they now constitute only 67%. Also, more and more users are logging on virtually cutting across various disciplines and backgrounds. There are only 17% internet users in this country who come from an IT background as against 21% a year ago. Now, the nerd is seldom heard.

As far as accessing the internet goes, there’s nothing cyber about the café anymore. Cyber cafes posted a disappointing 1% increase over last year and now sit at 47% in the access radar. However, accessing internet from homes are getting more and more popular with the rapid spread of broadband and other technologies.

As many as 59% of internet users access the Net from their PCs. However, the place of work still continues to be the single largest place for accessing internet at 78%. A quick look at the purchasing power of internet users demonstrates how car ownership among them has gone up by 5% over last year and sits at 28%.

Credit card usage, too, has risen by 7% since last year, sitting at 34%, and 90% of users have mobile phones, as against 85% in 2006. That’s a lot of affluence over 365 days. Tellingly, the survey found that of the 30 million Indian Net users, just about 41% prefer to browse online in English as compared to 59% a year ago.

That perhaps explains focused Net penetration across Tier II towns of the country where vernacular is more than the staple, only 37% of the current Net users hail from the top 10 metros. According to World Internet Stats, while 29% browsers surf on the English board, as many as 15% prefer to do so in Chinese.


[Submitted by Imran Asad]

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