100 Million Opportunity

In November, the active Internet base of India crossed 100 million subscribers. What does this number mean for businesses that can ride on this? Shelley Singh breaks it down for four categories of businesses

One hundred million Internet users. It’s a number that has been celebrated — and questioned. When an industry body announced in November the crossing of that milestone, it was seen as a representation of the buzz being felt in the Indian Internet space. But as the methodology details unraveled, questions arose over its accuracy. Regardless of whether and by how many millions the number is amiss, the view that the Internet space is seeing a momentum shift is near unanimous. A confluence of factors are feeding each other. Gadgets are becoming cheaper and yet better; connectivity is becoming faster; and e-businesses, buoyed by investor funding, are offering more than their real-world peers. More and more people are plugging into the idea of all three. All this creates business opportunities, in different degrees, for four kinds of players: e-commerce companies, investors, device makers and mobile service providers. “Businesses are talking about a nuclear winter,” says Rishi Khiani, CEO, Times Internet. “That’s not the case in the online space.” The four stories below outline the opportunities and challenges for each flowing from this headline number — whatever it might be.