Over a Quarter of Indian Population Will Use Smartphones in 2018: Report

The number of smartphone users in India will grow by close to 16 per cent in 2018, according to eMarketer report.


As many as 337 million people, or more than a quarter of the population in India, will use a smartphone in 2018, according to a forecast by United States-based market research company eMarketer.

The number of smartphone users in India will grow by close to 16 per cent this year, which is the highest growth rate of any country in the world, the report said.

“India still faces technological challenges that are holding back mass smartphone adoption. Mobile internet speeds are among the slowest in the world, around two-thirds of the population still lives in rural areas, and feature phones are by no means obsolete,” said Chris Bendtsen, senior forecasting analyst at eMarketer, in a statement. However, advertisers can still be optimistic about the future, Bendtsen added, pointing out that smartphones are getting cheaper, mobile data prices have fallen and urbanization continues. “Over the next four years, as speeds and rural reach improve, eMarketer expects the smartphone audience to reach close to half a billion users,” he said.

From an advertising point of view, since television draws large audiences in India, that is where the majority of ad spending traditionally has gone, according to the report. In recent years, however, as smartphone penetration has increased, mobile ad spend has also risen. Strong double-digit growth is expected to continue in India as mobile ad outlays will rise by 75 per cent in 2018, accounting for more than half of all digital spend, it added.

Since its last forecast, eMarketer increased its estimate for the smartphone audience in India by more than 31 million people. This rise is owing to the growth in smartphone usage in urban areas where affordable smartphones are becoming widely available.

The top smartphone brands in the Indian market include Xiaomi, Samsung and Oppo, which presently control over 72 per cent of the market, as against 63 per cent in 2015, the Economic Times earlier reported. Many weak players were weeded out of the market due to the competition. In 2015, out of the 15 new players that entered the smartphone market in India, only one player exited. By 2017, 13 players exited while only nine new players entered.

“Due to competition, they cannot raise prices,” Jaipal Singh, senior market analyst at International Data Corporation (IDC) India, was quoted as saying in the ET report.

According to a study conducted last year by U.S.-based media agency Zenith, smartphone ownership globally will continue to expand in 2018. China will have highest number of smartphone users — 1.3 billion — in 2018, followed by India, with 530 million users, the study said.

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