We have all heard about the smartphone revolution with a huge number of new users joining the ranks of smartphone users every day. China, the most populous nation has already reached their smartphone saturation point. India, most of South East Asia like Indonesia and Vietnam are seeing fast growth in new smartphone users along with parts of Africa catching up. The levels of smartphone and internet penetration is still low in these areas, especially low in India and thus there is still a huge number of users yet to come online. A significant percentage of them are accessing or coming online for the first time on these 5 inch screens.
Now imagine I am a first time internet user. I have decided to finally buy a smartphone with a data plan and I can’t wait to experience what this internet is all about. I had to register a gmail id since I had to download the Facebook and Whatsapp apps off of the Playstore. And for some time I was busy adding friends, making updates and sharing videos and memes.
After a few days I get bored and check out Google. The search box surrounded by the white screen stares at me expectantly. I don’t know what to do!!! This is your new user. This person does not know Twitter, Youtube, Wikipedia, Linkedin, Reddit, Pinterest or the most visited local websites. And since most of the internet is in English, the user has an even bigger barrier to cross to become a digital native.
Now for us who have migrated from desktop environments to a mobile ecosystem, certain questions have different answers, compared to a mobile first user.
- What does the Google home page mean to you?
- You open a new tab in Chrome on your mobile browser and see the clean display and the empty box which is your gateway to every piece of content possible. What do you do?
- You could chose to load your Facebook profile and waste time looking at new funny video your friend shared or Tweet about it on Twitter
- Wikipedia if you want to learn about a particular topic.
- You could go to Gmail to check your email
- Go to an e-commerce platform and buy something fancy
- Later you could hop on to a news website or Youtube to stay updated
- Or maybe just go to a million other websites and do what you like to do
This new user has the equipment, the access, but not the knowledge to navigate through this complicated and noise filled ecosystem that is the internet. And to solve this requires a completely new perspective for every product, service or piece of information in need of attention. How is your content to be presented, shared and promoted to this first time to the mobile only, non-metro internet user?
The new stage is not the number of installs/MAU/DAU but the amount of data spent on your app. And the most important app of all is your mobile browser. Every smartphone comes pre-installed with one and is the most used app after Facebook and Whatsapp in most developing economies.
Let’s analyse the relationship between the home page of the browser and data usage for the two fastest and largest developing markets in the world after China. We are keeping US out of this as it is a developed market already.
As you can see from the Image (Source:StatCounter) , the home page of Chrome is basically a box with a few hyperlinks. Probably a day’s worth of content and the user will not know what to do after that. Opera has a similar situation going for it. UC Browser on the other hand is overflowing with data. No wonder the data usage on the browser is many times more compared to the other browsers which figure in the top 3 in the country. This presentation and access to a huge variety of data keeps the user busy. A busy user means a high rate of data usage. This also speeds up the process of conversion from a clueless first time user to an active internet user. From access to enablement.
We see a very similar market distribution for Indonesia (Source: StatCounter) as well. With an increasing internet penetration rate along with access to cheaper hardware, Indonesia seems to be going through a similar of not same evolution.
Both countries have huge potential. And they are expected to be rather large markets with strong economies in the coming decades. With their large and young population, internet access and usage will bring certain defining changes in the current generation of youth in both countries.
But suddenly, it is not the content but the challenge is availability and reach. For example, a piece of content, say an educational health based video on dealing with Dengue or Malaria is created. Sharing it on youtube or showing it on TV will reach a small section of the population. Displayed on a browser and the video will reach half the population of the entire country.
Browsers have gained incredible and immense power in huge developing markets like India and Indonesia. This model is expected to replicate itself in Africa and South American economies as well. They are also expected to benefit from infrastructure development, improved internet access and speeds along the growing need of massive young populations looking for entertainment, education, connection among other things.
If your product’s target audience is a developing market, browsers are key and unrivaled in their power to drive awareness. With the power to influence such a huge section of the population, browsers are the gateway and decision maker in how the youth navigate the sea of content out there.