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810 million Indians will be using smartphones by 2021

India is the fastest growing smartphone market in the world according to a new report by Ericsson.

That title looks like it will hold till 2021 when 810,000,000 Indians will then have a smartphone.

In fact, every quarter India is seeing at least 21 million new subscribers. Compare this with 5 million in Indonesia and 3 million in the US.

Some say the double-digit growth era for the global smartphone market has come to an end. India seems to be the exception.

It’s easy to see how big India is and will be for the foreseeable future. It is the emerging mobile first market in the world.


What apps will benefit from this surge?

It’s obvious messaging and social networks will enjoy so many users coming online in the coming years. There will be others you may not think of right away.

Ecommerce companies in India like Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon are all fighting for screen space.

Amazon and Flipkart are being very aggressive with their promotions and offers. This is to reinforce the behavior of checking the app.

Recharge and Mobile Wallets like Paytm, Mobikwik and Freecharge will also benefit. They will naturally grow along the growth curve as people will need to manage their minutes and data.

Paytm also has mobile wallet functionality to make payment easier for many items. A good prediction will be to watch them get even bigger than expected all the way to 2021.

Watch Mobile Broadband Increase


A huge braodband usage increase will be a direct result of data usage on mobile phones.

Till 2021, total mobile traffic will increase by 15 times.

About 50% of current users are using their phones for Music & Video streaming and this metric looks to increase over time.

The number of 2G subscribers will grow until 2016. Then 3G & 4G should start taking over as preferred. 3G & 4G will account for 65% of all subscriptions by 2021.

What’s More Important: Voice or Data?

The Ericsson report says data speed is gaining more priority. Voice options are now a secondary indicator behind data.

Smartphone users between 15 and 24 years value high data speed the most and are willing to pay more for it.

What about countries other than India?


In general, everywhere but India will see a slowdown of smartphone sales.

After recording a growth of 16 percent in 2014, sales of smartphones in China were flat in 2015. Sales of smartphones in China represented 95 percent of total mobile phone sales in 2015.

The flatness in China is do to saturation and people willing to hold onto their phone for longer periods.

This is the same behavior happening in other countries. People are happy with their current phone and holding onto it longer.

Can “Make in India” Slow it Down?

Actually, the opposite is being predicted.

The government’s initiatives around “Make in India” could add to growth. Over 20 mobile phone brands currently assemble in the country, the research said. Half of the total mobile phones shipped in India during Q4 were assembled in India.

Mobile production in India has crossed 100 million units. Leading companies are setting up their manufacturing base in the country. Brands like LG have announced its new K series to be the first in its portfolio to be manufactured in India. The LG K7 has been launched for Rs 9,500, while the LG K10 has been launched for Rs 13,500.

The “Make in India campaign” is making a manufacturing nation. This is helping the manufacturing sector bump up GDP. Expect more and more investments in India to boost the economy and growth. There are even 24 other sectors outside of tech manufacturing they are targeting as well.

More Indians with jobs, means more money in the economy, which means more mobile phone sales.

There is one big exception: the Apple iPhone.

The policy is limiting major sales of the iPhone which could be a big seller in India if it was available for sale.

Apple is working with the government on trying to get into the Indian market.

Where are Indians buying phones?

Online retail sells one in three smartphones in India. Other sales come from physical stores around India.

What keeps someone from buying a new mobile?

Most analysts blame software upgrades not being big enough.

Because each update is incremental users can keep their phones for longer. Good for consumers and not good for double-digit sales growth.

Toughness of phones is also increasing. Mobile makers are making tougher screens and casings to not break upon impact.

Hardware has also moved so fast it is good for most people. Pictures look great on most phones. There is plenty of memory now that most apps are cloud based.

The real hardware upgrades people are starting to look for is to go from a 2G phone to a 3G or 4G compatible device.

Why is India the growth market?

India is ripe for growth thanks to a combination of lower feature phone uptake and lowering prices.

Sales of feature phones totaled 167 million units in 2015, 61 percent of total mobile phone sales in India.

Smartphones are expensive for Indians. However, average selling prices of low-end models are falling fast.

This means there are a lot of mobile upgrades coming up in the future.

Combine the upgrades with a surging middle class and you have a great growth market to boost the people of India up.

What needs to happen to past 2021?

In order to benefit for years India will have to start innovating apps and tech to tap this huge mobile base.

Looking at the Google Play store you see most apps in the top 50 are created by foreign companies.

The people of India are very tech saavy and we should see a lot more apps and startups rise up.

Have some input?

Have some opinions? Love your mobile? Leave your questions and comments in the comment section below.

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