Smartphones together with affordable mobile internet access have proved a blessing for millions of users across the length and breadth of a country like India whose population of 136 crores is only next to China. Smartphones have contributed a lot to the massive popularity of social media channels like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram in India. Before smartphones came, people mostly used desktops and laptops for checking their social media pages.
Previously, the number of people owning computers was limited, and the use of social media channels was also not so widespread. But with better technology in the new millennium, it became possible for hardware manufacturing companies like Samsung, Nokia, Oppo, and Redmi to bulk produce smartphones, and other types of handheld digital devices.
Therefore, a mobile model that previously cost $ 500 US was now available dirt cheap at just one-tenth of the earlier price. This simply revolutionized the mobile market as now everyone irrespective of their financial status could own a smartphone of their choice. The easy availability of mobile phones, tablets, and other devices reshaped all aspects of human endeavor and redefined society, culture, commerce, politics, as well as the media landscape across the world and in India too.
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More Facts About It!
You will amaze to know that India has the largest number of Facebook users in the world at around 346 million. It’s also the largest market for WhatsApp with around 400 million users. If you talk of the photo and video sharing social app Instagram, it has 120 million users in India, the second-highest in the world. While WhatsApp is occupying the topmost position among instant messaging platforms globally. Telegram and Signal among others are also fast gaining popularity in India.
Moreover, the most popular video-sharing platform YouTube has an estimated 325 million monthly active users in India. It also remains the most used digital media platform in rural India. So, whether it’s – songs, dances, recipes, events, or do-it-yourself videos- YouTube is the go-to channel for all and sundry. Another very popular short video sharing channel TikTok. Before it was shut down, had close to 200 million users in India, the largest outside China, its home market.
And when we come to online professional networking and jobs sites, LinkedIn is right at the top with almost 72 million users in India. Which is second only to the US and much ahead of China! Isn’t it crazy to learn that the top five social media and messaging platforms account for nearly 1.2 billion accounts in India, which is almost at par with India’s total population.
Let’s know some interesting facts: India has currently over 960 million active mobile phone connections. Of which, 750 million use their phones to access the internet. This makes India the second-largest market in the world on both counts. India has witnessed phenomenal growth in the digital devices market and emerged as a mobile-first, platform-dominated media market in less than a decade. It’s no surprise that social media is the fourth generation (4G) of media after print, television, and websites.
Now 120 million people armed with smartphones and mobile internet access. These are driving unprecedented change across the Indian social media landscape. Content consumption is taking place at a phenomenal pace. While regional language content is also experiencing staggering growth, with Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Bengali topping the charts. Actually, three out of four users in India now use social media in regional languages. One of the key factors that made it possible is mobile internet tariffs in India. Which are among the cheapest in the world! This has brought the number of rural mobile internet users higher than in urban areas. Besides, this has also helped reduce the digital divide and break the monopoly of elite English language content creators and distributors.
India Is A Mobile-first, Platform Dominated social media and News Market
According to a 2019 study, India has now become a mobile-first, platform-dominated market. And has left other developing markets like Brazil and Turkey much behind, let alone markets like the US or Germany. In the Reuters India Digital News study, almost 68% of respondents acknowledged. That smartphones were their main device for accessing social media channels and online news. In fact, 31% of them confided they only used mobile devices for accessing online news.
Although it’s also true that now there are many different platforms and apps to access the news. The Reuters study also revealed that Facebook and WhatsApp are particularly used more than any other platform. With 75 % of respondents using Facebook and 82% using WhatsApp to get their news. The other leading social media platforms used for news include Instagram (26%), Twitter (18 %), and Facebook Messenger (16%).
It’s obvious that these social platforms are absolutely crucial to online news distribution in India. They enjoy a massive power that is unheard of in its scope and size in the history of this nation. In another study, by Nielsen India and share chat on India’s next billion internet users. It was found out that about 73% of internet users login into their social networking platforms every day, with videos being the most preferred content.
Now, compare these figures with the Indian newspaper and television market. India has currently more than 1,10,851 registered newspapers and periodicals in dozens of languages. Yet, their total circulation is approx. just over 240 million copies. India has around 200 million television sets and approx.175 million cable and DTH connections in addition to Prasar Bharati’s TV network that covers over 92% of India’s population.
What Made This change?
The beginning of this dramatic change in our media happened 25 years ago with the internet and mobile phone boom. It is a well-known fact that Indian people consume their news mostly on smartphones and through social media platforms. The massive rise of social media indicates that the future of Indian social media is all digital. And why is it so? Although there are many reasons for this, essentially it’s because social media platforms have provided users an excellent medium. In which they can express their views, raise their voice and share their feelings with the wider world.