Internet seems to be on a move in the metros of India, but can it be the buzzword for small towns too?
Well if we look at the stats, it sure looks tough but quite possible. Today almost 70% of the total Internet users in India are coming in from the top 7 cities – Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata & Pune. Only 30% access is happening from all other cities put together.
Much of this can be attributed to the agonizingly erratic connectivity and pitiable bandwidth. No wonder, more than 2/3rds of the 30% from other cities are hooked on to the internet from cyber cafes.
If we look at logically, then a person in Gorakhpur should be a more willing buyer on the Internet as he can have more choices and lot of products / brands that may not be available in the local markets. A reliable e-commerce site would be like a Gurgaon mall for him.
When Indiatimes launched a branded 1.5 ton A/c offer at Rs. 12,000 around year and a half back, I know at least 5 people in Kanpur, my home town who bought air conditioners from Indiatimes shopping!
This can be a reason why e-commerce portals are already seeing almost 50% of their sales coming from the B & C class towns. eBay CEO Meg Whitman on her recent visit to India along with India Country Head - Gautam Thakar remarked about this as well
Categories like online travel & education also have a huge potential in these towns as there isn’t enough information / support on the ground providing information and options.
However, for people to plug into Internet in the smaller so called B & C class towns of India lot of work and focus is required from various stakeholders:
- ISPs / Telecos to give good connectivity at reasonable rates (I hope we have some low cost mass access technology like Indian Wi-max coming in soon)
- Hardware companies to provide low cost computers at easy installment schemes. (A 500 rupees per month scheme where you get a computer and internet access!)
- Publishers to provide compelling & local content in local / regional languages
I place my bets strongly on the small and mofussil towns of India being THE growth engine of Internet over the next 2-3 years.