After almost a decade since the Internet made its debut in India, close to 47 per cent of active Indian Internet users still don't know how it can be useful. This is part of the findings of an ongoing survey, I-cube Study, conducted by market research company IMRB International and the Internet and Mobile Association of India.
The survey also noted that, as on September 30, 2008, India had 45.3 million active Internet users. Active Internet users are those who use the Internet at least once a month. Besides the lack of awareness of the Internet in India, the survey also found that the other barriers to its use included high charges by cybercafes, high cost of Internet access at home and accessibility to cybercafes.
Mohan Krishnan, senior vice-president of BIRD, a specialised unit of IMRB International, said, "The continuing niche growth of the Internet is forcing two major realisations that need to be acted upon. Firstly, with a majority of urban literate challenged due to the barrier of the English language, there needs to be a strong push in local language provision over the Internet. In these markets, in addition to localised content, the online applications that matter to individuals in their daily lives are needed. At the same time, the untouched vast rural market needs to be tapped. However, the enabling content for such markets highly depends on the infrastructure available in accessing the Internet."
Meanwhile, urban users continue to dominate Internet use, contributing to 42 million of the 45 million-odd users. In September 2007, the number of active Internet users in urban India was 36 million, showing a year-on-year growth of less than 13 per cent.
Commenting on the study, IAMAI president Subho Ray said, "The growth rate was alarming compared with the rest (of the countries)."
The study also found that the number of 'claimed' Internet users in September 2008 was 57 million compared with 48 million in September 2007, recording a less than 10 per cent growth.
Claimed users are those whose frequency of use is less than one month.