Google, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp, Amazon…are all familiar names to millions in India who use the Internet mostly on their smartphones. This number is expected to reach 168 million this year with 277 million Internet users in all, predicts research firm eMarketer.
The New York Times reports that India already conducts more mobile searches on Google than any country besides the United States. Yet “we are barely scratching the surface of availability of Internet to the masses,” said Amit Singhal, Google’s senior vice president in charge of search. WhatsApp is easily the most popular way for Indians to connect with friends and family, and Facebook has 132 million users, second to the U.S.
To get 500 million people online by 2017, Google compresses its pages on web servers; allows YouTube content to be downloaded and saved when Wi-Fi is available, and watched when offline; is working on providing content in other languages apart from English for its vernacular users.
Twitter India, with 20 million users, treats India as a laboratory to test new ideas. “This is a market where we can do tests,” said Amiya Pathak, a founder of startup ZipDial that was acquired earlier this year by Twitter, and a director of product management at Twitter. “Prove it out in India first, and as you prove it out, take it to other markets,” he added.