There has been constant talks about the incresing use of internet through mobiles. While landlines have stagnated people connecting with internet using mobile is growing.
According to a McKinsey report, current 81 million user base will become 450 million by 2015. Most of the addition is going to happen through mobile.
But there are issues that need to be address. According to a report more than half the Americans don’t use mobile internet despite having access to it. Main reason for this is the poor quality experience that they get.
If we look at Indian market experience, it is worse as we still do not have widespread 3G network. Only seven percent of the Indians have access to internet and less than one percent has mobile internet service.
According to the 2011 Mobile Internet Attitudes report, Antenna Software, a mobile software solutions company, while the mobile internet segment is growing at the rate of 17 per cent in both United States and Britain thanks to social networking, it has the potential to grow more if user experience gets better.
Nearly half of US consumers (44 per cent) with mobile Internet access are more likely to use it if the experience offered was similar to using the Internet on their personal computer, with comparable speed, functionality and appearance of websites.
Nearly half of respondents use the mobile Internet each day to stay in touch with friends through instant messaging (21 per cent in the UK and 22 per cent in the US) and social networking (27 per cent in both countries), the report added.
If we look at the Indian scene, its slightly different, mobile internet usage is growing at a break neck speed. But that’s due to the fact that we do not have many options of access internet, thanks to low penetration of wired or wireless broadband connections.
The experience is much worse compared to what users in developed countries are getting still the usage of mobile internet is more than doubling every year.
The survey definitely provides a direction which the mobile industry needs to follow. One users experience needs to improve on the user interface front, and the speeds and reliability of the network need to improve.
For most Indians mobile internet is or will be the first experience of the online space and therefore the demand for an experience like PC will not be so big here. What will be important is that it is easy to use and understand.
The network reliability however will be a much bigger concern. There will be huge load on the network in cities as even in metros like Delhi, wired broadband penetration is low and is not growing at all. This would mean that the entire load will come on to mobile networks and which will result in congested network.
Given the lack of spectrum this issue will be hard to address. Solutions like Aircel WiFi service will definitely provide a viable alternative.
On the other hand small towns and rural pockets would face poor network quality where due to low return on investment operators hesitate to invest in infrastructure.
However in any case the growth of mobile internet is assured in India at least for the foreseeable future thanks to near absence of broadband alternative. But operators and application developers should not turn a blind eye to subscriber woes as that would result in a huge population which will keep itself away from the boom due to these issues.