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商业 - 科技

拥抱印度互联网,一块正在成长的大蛋糕

Don Reisinger 2015年11月23日

中印龙象之争进一步延烧至互联网领域。最新统计显示,印度即将超越中国,成为世界上网民人数最多的国家。

 

据市场研究公司IMRB国际和印度网络及移动通信协会(IAMAI)近期公布的一项报告,印度网民人数预计将比2014年12月增长49%,达到4.02亿人。该研究显示,至2016年年中,印度每月活跃网络用户数量将增长至超过4.26亿人。目前,中国的网民数量超过6.5亿人,依旧是网民数量最多的国家,而美国约有3亿互联网用户。

印度网民数量增长意味着,中印之间长久的龙象之争将进一步深入到互联网领域。据IAMAI表示,印度互联网用户达到1亿,用了超过10年时间,之后三年内就迅速增长到了2亿,而从3亿到4亿仅用了一年时间。今年10月份,印度的互联网用户人数是3.75亿,这意味着在接下来的两个月内,印度互联网用户的增幅将超过2500万。

与此同时,据中国互联网络信息中心公布的数据,中国2014年的新增互联网用户为3100万,比2013年的5300万有显著减少。

印度互联网市场里的“好消息”

印度网民的迅速增长,得益于刚刚接触到智能手机的国民对科技与日俱增的兴趣。IAMAI的报告称,根据对印度35个城市的调查,其移动互联网用户在10月份同比增长65%,达到1.97亿人。

该组织在一份声明中表示:“很显然,互联网已经成为当今印度的主流。庞大的互联网用户基数,对于数字行业的总体增长绝对是一个好消息。”

报告中还称,印度互联网用户中71%为男性,女性仅占29%。男性互联网用户增长率为50%,而女性用户增长率为46%。可是在印度城市中,互联网男女用户比例为62:38。而在城市互联网用户中,女性增长率为39%,男性仅为28%。在印度乡村地区,88%的互联网用户为男性,女性用户增长率为61%,男性为79%。75%的乡村互联网用户为18岁到30岁之间的年轻人,11%用户是18岁以下青少年,31岁到45岁之间的中年用户仅占8%。

此外,报告还显示,32%的互联网用户是大学生,26%是年轻人。在女性互联网用户中,非工作女性用户增长最快。去年,这个群体的增长率高达97%,其次为学校女生(增长率36%)以及大学女生(增长率26%)。

值得注意的是,印度城市中每天访问互联网的人数正在激增。2015年10月份,69%的用户每天会使用互联网,比去年增长9%。可是,高频互联网用户并非仅限于青年人和大学生。每天使用互联网的习惯在其他群体中也可看到,比如中年男性和非工作女性。75%的工作女性每天使用互联网。37%的男性互联网用户每天使用网络,而每天使用互联网的女性用户仅为23%。75%的互联网用户每周至少使用一次互联网。

在印度城市地区,移动互联网用户同比增长99%,从去年的8000万人增至2015年10月份的1.97亿人。乡村地区移动互联网用户到12月份有望达到8700万人,到2016年6月份可达到1.09亿人。

报告还指出,对印度35座城市的非互联网用户进行调查显示,有1140万人表示将于明年开始上网,其中三分之二的人想通过手机上网。

科技巨头纷至沓来

全球最大的互联网公司已经注意到这一趋势。实际上,Facebook和谷歌均加大了对印度市场的开发力度。例如,谷歌迅速扩大了在印度提供的服务,并瞄准了手机用户。本月早些时候,谷歌甚至放松了对Android One设备功能与定价的管制。Android One是谷歌专门针对印度和其他新兴市场设计的网络设备。

令人颇感意外的是,被称为“中国版苹果”的手机制造商小米公司,在印度投入了巨大的资源,甚至开始在印度生产手机。小米在印度发布了多款智能手机,并且计划推出更多型号,该公司表示,印度是小米业务增长的关键部分。

但Facebook才是在印度市场最活跃的科技巨头,其“开路先锋”正是该公司的 Internet.org项目。该项目指出,目前全世界有三分之二的人依旧无法上网,而该项目的目的便是为人们提供上网的机会。凭借低成本甚至免费上网,这一项目吸引了大批印度用户。

上个月,Facebook公司在印度举行了一场市政厅式会议。CEO马克•扎克伯格在讲话中肆意称赞印度的增长机遇。扎克伯格声称,他打算借助Internet.org项目为近10亿无法上网的印度人提供网络。他透露称,超过1.3亿印度人正在使用Facebook。

扎克伯格说道:“我们的使命是,让全世界每一个人都有能力分享对他们重要的事情,让每一个人都能使用网络。印度是全世界最大的民主国家;也是最大的国家之一……要想实现这个目标,就必须帮助每一个印度人获得上网机会,否则这个目标便只能是空中楼阁。”

听起来非常大公无私,但事实上,对于Facebook在内的诸多科技公司而言,印度的12.5亿人口代表的是一个巨大的盈利机会。

韦德布什证券公司分析师迈克尔•帕赫特告诉《财富》杂志:“印度有庞大的人口,有新兴的中产阶级、无数的手机用户,而且受教育水平相对较高。未来几年,Facebook的印度用户将增长2亿至3亿人,这是非常吸引人的——印度可能成为Facebook最大的市场。”

短期难成“摇钱树”

不过,科技公司要面临的一个问题是,印度目前还成不了它们的“摇钱树”。在硬件方面,为了适应消费者的价格敏感性,科技公司在印度销售产品的时候往往要降低价格。此外,印度的政府监管一直饱受诟病。总而言之,在印度做生意并不容易。印度监管部门因保护本土公司而备受指责,比如美国拼车服务Uber在印度的主要竞争对手Ola便受到了特别照顾。

在数字方面,对于Facebook和谷歌这些依赖数字广告收入的公司来说,印度市场的情况并不会变得更好。市场研究公司eMarketer的首席分析师黛布拉•阿霍•威廉姆斯上个月曾告诉《财富》杂志,尽管印度是Facebook仅次于美国的第二大市场,但Facebook今年在印度的广告收入仅有1.22亿美元。威廉姆斯预计,Facebook的全球广告收入总计将达到163亿美元。在整个数字广告业方面,eMarketer认为,2015年,美国的数字广告消费约为580亿美元。而印度将达到9.4亿美元。

当然,印度政府一直承诺将放松对商业的限制,这或许将有助于促进数字广告业的增长。与此同时,随着网民人数的增加和印度经济的增长,科技公司将奠定一个良好的基础,从而为所有的公司开创一个充满希望的新机遇。(财富中文网)

作者:Don Reisinger

译者:刘进龙/汪皓

审校:任文科

By next month, the country is expected to reach 402 million Internet users, up 49% from Dec. 2014, according to a new report published by market-research firm IMRB International and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) on Tuesday. The research also says the number of India’s monthly active web users will grow to more than 426 million people by the middle of 2016. By comparison, at more than 650 million users, China still represents the world’s largest Internet-connected population. And for perspective, the U.S. has approximately 300 million Internet users.

But India’s growth suggests that the country may soon rival China’s web-connected population. It took India more than 10 years to reach 100 million Internet users. Then over the next three years, it quickly climbed 200 million users, said the IAMAI. The jump from 300 million users to 400 million took only a year. In October, India had 375 million Internet users, which suggests the country will add more than 25 million Internet users in the next two months.

Meanwhile, China only added 31 million new Internet users in 2014, according to the China Internet Network Information Center, a figure that was down from 53 million in 2013.

India’s growth is due to an increasingly tech-interested population that is only starting to get its hands on smart phones. The IAMAI reported that out of the 35 cities it surveyed for the study, mobile Internet usage across India was up 65% year-over-year in October, numbering 197 million people.

“Clearly, Internet is mainstream in India today,” the organization said in a statement. “And the large Internet users base is definitely a good news for the overall growth of the digital industry.”

Amid the world’s largest Internet companies have taken notice. In fact, Facebook FB 2.51% and Google GOOGL 1.88% , among countless others, have been doubling down on their efforts in India. Google, for instance, has rapidly expanded its service offerings to India and focused on the country’s mobile users. Earlier this month, the company even relaxed rules on features and pricing for Android One devices designed for India and other emerging markets.

Xiaomi, the China-based handset maker that has been called the “Apple of China,” has surprised some by dedicating significant resources—and manufacturing—to India. Xiaomi has launched several smartphones in India, has plans for more, and has said that the country is a critical component in growing its business.

But Facebook has arguably been the most aggressive India-focused company, starting with its Internet.org initiative. Designed to get two-thirds of the world’s population not currently online connected to the Internet, the initiative is attracting users in India with low- or no-cost web access.

Last month, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg held a town hall in India, where he touted the country’s growth opportunities. While much of his talk centered on Internet.org and his plans for connecting the nearly one billion Indian people who aren’t online, Zuckerberg said that more than 130 million Indian people use Facebook.

“Our mission is to give everyone in the world the power to share what’s important with them and to connect every person in the world,” Zuckerberg said. “And India is the world’s largest democracy; it’s one of the biggest countries…. If you really have a mission of connecting every person in the world, you can’t do that without helping to connect everyone in India.”

As altruistic as that may sound, the truth is, India’s 1.25 billion people presents a huge revenue opportunity for tech companies, including Facebook.

“[There are] lots of people there, an emerging middle class, tons of cell phone users, and a relatively well-educated population,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter told Fortune. “[Facebook] can grow by 200 to 300 million users in India over the next few years, making it pretty exciting—it could be their largest market.”

But the issue for tech companies is that India is not yet a major moneymaker. On the hardware side, companies are often forced to sell products for less in India, to accommodate consumer price sensitivity. The country has also been hobbled by regulations, making it difficult to do business there. India’s regulators have even been accused of protecting home-grown companies, like Ola, the chief competitor to U.S.-based ride-sharing service Uber.

On the digital side, things don’t look much better for Facebook or Google, which rely on digital-advertising revenue. Debra Aho Williamson, a principal analyst with eMarketer, told Fortune last month that despite India being its second-largest market behind the U.S., Facebook will generate just $122 million in ad revenue there this year. Williamson expects Facebook to generate a total of $16.3 billion worldwide in advertising revenue. Industry-wide, eMarketer also believes $58 billion will be spent on digital advertising in the U.S. in 2015. In India, that figure will top $940 million.

That said, the Indian government has committed to loosening restrictions on business, which should help boost those numbers. In the meantime, as more people come online and India’s economy improves, tech companies are laying the foundation for what looks to be a promising opportunity for all companies.

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