India, one of the fastest growing economies in the world is also growing rapidly in the use of smartphones and internet for smartphones. The number of mobile internet users in India currently stands at around 200 million, double of what it was two years ago and is expected to double once again by 2017. This rapid growth in demand for internet on phones is attributed to increasing demand for internet based services such as chats, streaming of music and videos and social media.
However majority of mobile internet users in India use prepaid services and are constantly on a “data diet” which means they have a budget for how much internet they can use each week and are constantly mindful of much data they have left. As a result of this data diet people switch off their internet services when they are not in a Wi-Fi zone. Also people only download popular apps and do not waste their data exploring different new apps coming in their app stores.
To solve this problem, Mavin an Indian internet company, launched a marketing platform called Gigato last week. Gigato pumps the megabytes of data back into users’ smartphones when they spend time on their partner apps. Gigato reimburses mobile users by providing additional data for free, which can be used on any app. Another platformmCent set precedent for giving users free data for their usage, and currently has 30 million users worldwide and is profitable.
I’m a true believer that the world should be an even playing field for all and internet can be used to do so. In developing countries like India, internet is a tool to empower people and a way to give even the lowest strata of society a voice. Until the cost of data goes down, more platforms like mCent and Gigato are needed. Companies need to start thinking not just in terms of profit but also on how they can make a positive change in the world. I imagine that a lot more companies will start entering this space. I’m convinced that every little effort counts and it’s our time to make the world a little better for the future generations. As John Lewis has rightly said, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”
Garima Thakker, MSD Intern