India has 120 million Internet users, according to Online and upcoming: The Internet’s impact on India, a report by McKinsey & Company (December 2012), making it the third-largest user base in the world. And while in 2012 the Internet economy contributed 1.6 percent to India’s GDP, about $30 billion, the study suggests that amount may triple by 2015.
The Internet’s role in communication, social networking, and informing and influencing India’s consumers is on par with that of developed countries. And with the cost of Internet access and mobile devices going down, India appears to be heading for an Internet boom.
This trend is despite a number of obstacles, including limited infrastructure and digital literacy. The Indian government recently announced a Digital India initiative to address these issues and put more government services online, making them easily available to more citizens. The National Portal of India now offers a wealth of information about the country, its government, public services and the means for citizens to apply online for those services.
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) digital analyst Mary Meeker reports that smartphone and mobile device use has increased dramatically in India, outstripping TVs, tablets and PCs. Meeker says mobile data traffic is growing rapidly, partly because of the popularity of video streaming.
In other areas, Indian innovators are using the open Internet to bring services to underserved areas. The NGO Piramal developed the Sarvajal project to deliver clean water where it is most needed. Sarvajal: ATMs Bring Potable Water to Rural and Urban India tells the story. Hospitals are developing telemedicine programs, using mobile devices to treat patients remotely, connecting rural doctors with specialists in city medical centers.