India had 30 million internet users in April, six million more than it had a year ago, according to a survey released on Friday, and 20 million of these users are on the Net daily. These are the findings of Juxt Consult Pvt. Ltd, a Delhi-based Internet research firm.
There are other, larger estimates of the number of Internet users in India, including a 47 million figure by the Internet and Mobile Association of India, an industry association. However, Juxt Consult’s study is based on a survey of 10,000 households across 31 cities while most other estimates are based on extrapolations that include assumptions regarding the number of people who share an Internet connection at work and home. The workplace is where most users still access the Internet (up 16% over the last year to 78%).
Despite the growth in users, Internet penetration in India is a relatively low 9%.
Juxt Consult’s survey found that 56% of all Internet users are part of social and professional networking forums.
Social networking accounts for a larger slice of this pie. The survey found that 29% of all Net users were members of social networking sites.
Blogging also seems to be catching up. The survey found that 27% of all online Indians read or checked blogs, 15% of them commented on blogs though only 7% of them had a blog of their own.
The 25% growth in the number of internet users did not impress some experts.
“While Internet use is steadily growing, its actual potential has yet to be realized. With a growing middle class population, Internet usage should ideally grow 40-50% (a year),” said Sanjay Tiwari, director, Juxt Consult. Accessibility, lack of regional content and poor broadband connectivity still continue to pose barriers to growth, he added.
Meanwhile, communication, networking and entertainment activities stood out as the more popular online activities. In the list of top 10 most popular online activities among regular Internet users, five had to do with communication and networking (email, instant messaging, chatting, e-greetings, dating and friendship) and four of the others were related to news, sports, music and games.
The 25% growth in Internet users is on the back of an increased penetration of broadband. At least three out of four regular Internet users who accessed the net from home were found to be using broadband or high-speed connections. At least 74% of office-based usage was on similar connections.
Interestingly, the survey found that the Internet users who accessed the Net from home spent more time surfing the Net than watching television, reading newspapers or listening to radio.