India has the lowest percentage of adults using the internet in the world: Report

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  • According to a new report published by the Pew Research Center, only 25% of Indian adults use the internet.
  • Not only is that the lowest rate of internet use in Asia, but it’s also the lowest globally.
  • Even with respect to owning a smartphone and using social media, India’s at the bottom of the table.
There have been quite a few reports that applaud the level of Internet penetration in India, but the Pew Research Center’s newest survey shows that only 25% of adults in India use the internet, at least, occasionally or report owning a smartphone in 2017.

In comparison, not only does South Korea have the highest internet use rate in Asia at 96%, it’s also the highest percentage globally. China, on the other hand, did not have data for 2017 but the reported percentage in 2016 was at 71%.

Meanwhile, the global average lies at around 75% which is thrice the level of India at this point.

Getting online

One of the parameters measured in the study was the number of adults who report owning a smartphone. In this case, it is interesting to note that despite being the ‘second largest smartphone market’ of the world, only 22% of Indian adults reportedly own a smartphone.

On the other hand, statistics like these provide insight into one of the reasons why the smartphone market in India is so competitive with new players waiting to edge in. The poll of untapped potential customers is vast.

India’s smartphone ownership is the second lowest globally between Tanzania’s at 13% and Tunisia at 27%.

The richer, the better

As per the data presented by the Pew Research Center, there’s a strong correlation between the wealth of nations and the level of internet use. As the income of a nation increases, the number of adults who use the internet also increases. India and Tanzania are on the lower end of the curve with the lowest incomes and lowest internet use while the US and the Netherlands are on the opposite end with high incomes and a high percentage of adults online.

Silver lining

India may have the lowest internet use rate in the world, but since 2013, it’s gone up 9 percentage points from 16%. Between 2016 and 2017, internet use among adults increased from 21% to 25% after having fallen a whole percentage point the year before.

Even smartphone ownership made an impressive jump between 2016 and 2017 - from 18% to 22%. And, the use of social networking platforms went up by 6 percentage points from 14% to 20%.

Pew Research Center’s analysis shows that despite the low levels of penetration, emerging and developing economics are still exhibiting upward trends in growth on average, while advanced economies show stagnation, if not negative growth.

In fact, over the past five years the emerging economies that were a part of the data set showed steady increases across the three parameters of measurement.

It should be noted that only 37 countries were a part of this study with 40,448 respondents.



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