India keen on webmail, social networks

Melissa Chua
08 Jun 2011

Research from comScore has shown Web-based email and social networks to be key drivers behind Internet use in India.

Web-based email usage may have declined globally over the past year, but India’s usage stayed flat over the same period. According to comScore, 78% of the country’s Internet users were using Webmail in March this year, compared to the global average of 61%.

Kedar Davane, a director at comScore India, told reporters at a Webinar that such a trend was typical of countries with relatively low levels of broadband penetration.

As is the case in Indonesia and the Philippines, social networking sites are highly popular in India, with 85% of the country’s users accessing such sites, versus a 73% global average. India’s 16% growth over the past year for this category outstripped regional and global growth. Facebook had last year overtaken Orkut for the position of India’s preferred social networking site.

Instant messaging is however, less popular, with just 26% of users accessing such programs, compared to a global result of 36%.

India’s users also scored greater than the worldwide average for surfing sports and education sites. Davane said the country’s penchant for cricket likely contributed to its 40% showing for sports-related websites such as ESPN and Yahoo sports.

News websites however, registered a lower than global average rating of 58% versus 63%. Interestingly, comScore found that a substantial amount of traffic (between 34% to 46%) to India’s top domestic news sites originated from users outside India.

e-commerce use remains low in India, with just 54% of India’s web users accessing retail sites, compared to the 63% global average. Retail site visitation, however, increased by 14% over the past year. The most-visited retail category in India was that of computer software (16.8%), the only one which outpaced the global and regional averages of 12.4% and 8% respectively.

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