A quiet digital revolution is on in the countrysides and bylanes of India. Despite having one of the world’s lowest PC penetration (at just 1%), hundreds of millions of Indians are logging on to the Internet through their humble, tiny mobile phone.
The latest ‘state of the mobile web’ report from Opera, whose browser accounts for nearly 63% of all mobile surfing in the country, reveals that mobile web consumption has grown by 300%, or quadrupled, in the last one year — from March 2010 to March 2011.
The number of users logging in to the web on their mobile phones from India too has grown by 232%, or to around 3.5 times, in the last one year, according to Opera. The growth rate in India is four times that of the World as a whole, indicating the popularity of mobile browsing in India.
Though gleaned from Opera users, the numbers are applicable to the entire mobile web market in India as Opera’s share of the market has remained constant at 60-65% during the period.
Surprisingly, an average user on Opera Mini views no less than 442 pages per month, or around 13.5 pages a day, and consumes 7 MB of data on browsing.
Not surprisingly though, the most popular phone for browsing the Internet from an Opera browser is the humble Nokia 2690 — a basic colour model which costs around Rs 2,700.
It was followed by the popular Nokia 5130 XpressMusic phone, in March 2011.
All the top 10 phones were Nokia models, with the exception of the Micromax Q5 at number8 — marking the company’s entry into the top 10.
As expected, Google and Facebook topped the list of most visited sites.
Globally, the Opera Mini browser had over 102.4 million users, a 14.1% increase from February 2011. The number of unique users has increased 85.4% year over year.
In the month of March, there was a lot of movement in the top 20 countries ranking (in terms of total Opera Mini users). Nigeria jumped to the #5 spot, Mexico shot up to #11, Egypt got to #16 and Bangladesh rose to #19.
Opera Mini is the most successful and widespread mobile browser in the World and in India, primarily due to its two-stage processing. Unlike normal browsers on the phone, the pages in rendered on a distant server, simplified and then transfered to the phone — saving both data charges as well as increasing the spead and lay-out of the page on small phones.
Opera is present on all platforms, including the iPhone and Android and even the iPad, on which it is about to launch.
Opera Mini hit 100 million users in March, two months after both of Opera’s mobile browsers crossed the figure. In March, Opera Mini had two billion daily page views, double that of July 2010.