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Google: India Has 100M Internet, 40M Mobile Internet Users; India Search Trends

“Search queries originating from India have grown 20 times in the last five years, Rajan Anandan, VP-Sales & Operations at Google India, adding that for Google, India is the third biggest Internet market in terms of users, with over 100 million internet user base, adding that 40 million people in India access the Internet from work, and 30 million from Cafes, apart from 11 million households that have a broadband connection installed. Anandan, speaking at the VC Circle E-Commerce Forum, held in Delhi last week, made a strong pitch for the Internet, saying that the amount of time that an average user in India spends online is now on par to TV viewing time at 16 hours in a week.

On the Mobile Internet, Anandan said that more than (according to Google estimates) 40 million Internet users in India access it through their mobile phones and there are 30 million app downloads in one week. The number of search queries originating from mobile phones have grown four times in the last 12 months and 50 times since 2007. Anandan predicted that more than 300 million people in India would be hooked on to mobile internet by the year 2015.

Segment Specific Search Trends

Anandan emphasized on the fact that Indians go online to search for product information and believe in Research Online and Buy offline. He gave an estimated breakup for various product categories:

– Auto – 33% Research online Buy Offline and 3% Research and Buy Online
– Healthcare- 39% Research online Buy Offline and 5% Research and Buy Online
– Media and Entertainment- 26% Research online Buy Offline and 16% Research and Buy Online
– Retail – 65% Research online Buy Offline and 19% Research and Buy Online
– Technology Products- 72% Research online Buy Offline and 21% Research and Buy Online
– Internet Banking: Google also found that the weekly queries for Internet banking have gone up 200 times in the last 18 months, which shows a lot of Indians want to bank online.

Travel Search

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– 40% Research online Buy Offline and 29% Research and Buy Online
50% searches in India were for budget hotels that offered sub Rs 5000 a night tariff. He said that this was an indication about potential of the segment and the need for building more ‘Ginger’ like hotels.
– This was followed by Air travel queries at 27%
– Holidays at 10%
– Bus and rail at 7.42%
– Car rentals at 1.97%.

Local Search Opportunity

Anandan pointed out that there was a massive untapped opportunity in local searches, which have increased five times over the last year and out of the total, 50% are made from mobile phones. Only 45% of those local search queries are covered by Indian businesses and the rest remain unresolved. He advocated the Microtransaction payment model, keeping in mind the sheer volume of users in the country.

E-Commerce Payment Issues

Anandan felt that E-Commerce companies in India are not doing enough to address the segment and payment hiccups, lack of awareness and trust and a good online experience were the barriers in the growth of e-commerce in the country. He mentioned that most companies were using outsourced Internet marketing, which should be avoided beyond a point. Each should have a designated CTO and Technology team to avoid hiccups.

He said that e-commerce companies need to focus on the website design to make it clean, fast and give the user a great online experience by doing things like avoiding pop-ups to register when the user lands on the site. They need to integrate social and search elements but at the same time keep it relevant and cover the entire customer landscape.

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On the payment side, he stressed on the need for cash on delivery as a viable payment option, saying that players who don’t want to do cash on delivery should not get into e-commerce.

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