The expansion of the internet is entering a new chapter. After dominating the Western world, tech companies are working out solutions to ensure it can spread into developing countries as well. With India having such a vast population, it should come as no surprise that the country is one of the main targets for improving infrastructure.
When the whole country gets online, there will be more than 1.3 billion people for companies to target. This fertile market could be worth trillions of dollars in the coming years.
Online access has already permeated the Western world and multitudes of companies have been able to capitalise on it. It has created numerous billionaires, with innovators like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg taking full advantage of its capabilities. These people were able to tap into a growing market and give help the internet develop more than people could have imagined. The concept of social media and buying almost anything online was alien at the turn of the millennium, but now these things are taken for granted.
Parts of the developing world are reminiscent of Western countries in pre-internet times, which is why they represent such important markets for tech businesses to get into right now. The internet is beginning to penetrate these countries more rapidly than before and it feels like a new dawn in India, in particular.
When the internet was taking off in the West in the mid-2000s, only four per cent of the Indian population had access to the web. This figure has shot up in recent years, though and in 2020, 50 per cent of the population were online. That sounds like great progress, but the UK already had 56 per cent of its population online in 2002. With India twenty years behind these Western countries, it’s clear to see why it is being targeted.
Despite only having half of its population online, India already represents the second-largest internet market in the world behind China. This is because the country has more than half a billion people online and these new internet users are discovering what the digital world has to offer for the first time. Tech businesses and corporations in the entertainment world are flocking to the subcontinent to market themselves to this emerging audience, and there is opportunity for high rewards for those that get in early.
The gaming industry has already started to have a huge impact across India. Competitive gaming has swept the country, with eSports already attracting 85 million viewers over the last few years. It’s expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 46 per cent for the next four years and, from there, it seems that the sky is the limit. The fact that popular eSports like PUBG and Fortnite can be played from mobile has made them accessible to a wealth of players in the country and there are now 1.5 million professional Indian gamers.
The online casino sector has also flourished in India as this too can be played via mobile devices. It’s estimated that 40 per cent of internet users in the country like to gamble, underlining how lucrative the online gambling sector is as well. Several international brands have begun advertising their services to players in India, with NetBet and Royal Panda being a couple of standout options. There are special offers geared towards Indian players and some game offerings have been adapted to suit people in the country too.
As the growing internet moves across the whole of India, some people have begun to tout the idea of electronic colonialism. Hundreds of years ago, people travelled to new lands in search of resources and fertile places to grow. Nowadays, electronic corporations are in search of virtual spaces that are untapped, where there is potential to reach a whole new audience.
One way that India will benefit from electronic colonialism is that huge corporations such as Facebook and Alphabet will invest in the country and assist in the construction of new infrastructure that will help the internet to spread. These companies need more people to be online, so they will be willing to help with that. However, this is likely to be a slow process. The internet has made it to most of the world’s major cities now. But getting to the more rural locations will be much harder. It is expected that the whole world will be online by 2050.
The growth of major tech companies in India over the next decade is going to be rapid. This is the number one market in the world for Western companies to target now and people living in the country will benefit from the greater availability of entertainment and commerce.