At the start of this month, comScore announced there were now 106 million smartphones in use in the U.S., up a healthy nine percent since the start of the year. To put that in perspective, that’s approximately one smartphone for every three Americans. In India, whose population hovers around 1.2 billion, the ratio of smartphones to citizens isn’t quite as impressive. According to Bain, though steadily increasing, there are currently only 10-15 million smartphones in circulation on the subcontinent. What India lacks in smartphone quantity, however, it more than makes up for in overall data usage. In two new studies, one co-released by Google and Ipsos and one released by eBay India, it was revealed that Indians even outpace Americans when it comes to several mobile device metrics. For example, 56 percent of Indian smartphone users access the web multiple times per day, compared with just 53 percent of Americans who do so.
And when it comes to social media, the disparity is even greater: 76 percent of Indians check sites like Facebook and Twitter on their mobile devices, an almost 25 percent higher rate than their American counterparts. In the U.S., the rate of those who said they “never” used their smartphones for internet purposes is more than double that in India–lending credence to the conclusion that there is a significantly higher concentration of web savvy users in India than in the U.S.
In terms of online retail, considering the barriers to entry discussed here last week involving payment options and a lack of available e/m-commerce functionality, Indians are catching on quickly. In the eBay study, it was found that 68 percent of those smartphone-owning Indians had used their device to make a purchase. In the U.S., despite greater accessibility to m-commerce, just 38 percent have bought an item on their mobile device. All of these data points support the conclusion from L2’s ‘Digital IQ Index: Brazil Russia India‘, which is that not only are Indians becoming more digitally native, but they are leapfrogging past the laptop, straight to the smartphone.