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India is No. 2 in mobile Net use

Wednesday, 31 March 2010 - 3:31am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

Few takers for smartphones, majority use cheaper handsets.

India has emerged as the second-biggest consumer of mobile Internet after the US, according to data from 15,000 mobile websites monitored by Google. However, it accounted for only 5.9% of the 14 billion web pages seen on mobile phones in February.

More than half the web pages were seen on mobile phones in the US, Google said in a report on Monday.

The numbers represent statistics of only those countries where Google has a strong mobile advertising network, and may not have captured the full extent of the Chinese market, where Google continues to be weak.

In a separate briefing, Google’s India product head, Vinay Goel, said the number of mobile internet users has grown nearly five times in the last five years. “In fact the number of new data connections added globally this year will be higher on the mobile than on the PC,” he added.

According to him, around 25 million of the 500 million or so mobile users in India have paid data accounts and another 55-65 million use operator-provided data services. Goel said the number of Internet users on PCs in India is growing at around 50% a year and will reach 100 million by the end of 2010.

Compared to this, China added 100 million new users to the online community last year.

Interestingly, Indians take considerable pain to view the Internet on their phones, as evidenced by the devices they used. Unlike almost every other country where the highest number of usage came from a smartphone, in India, the top two devices were mid-range Nokia phones — the Express Music 5130 and the 3110c, both of which cost between Rs 3,500 and Rs 5,500.

The iPhone, the Rs 30,000 handset from Apple that accounted for nearly 40% of the global mobile web traffic in February, did not figure in the top 10 devices in India.

Nokia, which had just one presence in the world top 10 devices for mobile Internet, took all the 10 spots in India. Its devices also accounted for 59% of all mobile web traffic from India, followed by ‘Others’ and Sony Ericsson and Samsung.

Nokia’s N70, the only Nokia presence in world’s top 10 devices for generating mobile Internet traffic, was the most popular ‘smartphone’ in India, followed by other N Series devices such as N80, N73, N72 and the iPhone.

Globally, the share of Nokia’s Symbian operating system dropped for the second month running, hitting 18% in February from 19% in January, while iPhone’s share continued to remain stable at around 40%. However the numbers show large gains for devices based on the Android operating system, going from 16% in November to 24% in February.

The numbers also revealed that the iPhone was losing Internet share to the Android in a big way in its home market, the US. The share of iPhone’s internet traffic dropped from 55% in November to 44% in February. During the period, the share of Android phones rose from 27% to 42%.

The last four months have seen the increasing popularity of Android phones such as Motorola’s Droid and HTC’s Dream, which followed the iPhone on the popularity charts in the US.

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