Saturday, December 22, 2007

Content - the missing piece in the Indian Internet puzzle

Internet in India may have reached millions of households (at least in large cities) but are all members of the household using the Internet? I rarely see parents going beyond e-mail/IM/online banking/trading. And I ask why? Why doesn't the Internet have the same impact on my mother as do TV/newspapers/magazines?

My mother stays in the heart of Mumbai, runs a 20-25 member strong fashion designing and tailoring business, and spends more than me each month. And she has a 2 Mbps Internet connection at home. But that is used primarily by my sister or me (when I am back home). It makes absolutely no difference to my mother whether the Internet connection is up or not.

And if the Internet industry has not yet found a way to reach her, then there is surely something missing. In such a scenario, I don't see much coming out of the Internet industry trying to woo users in semi-urban India. For the Internet to become a mass medium, it must go beyond the youth and reach out to everyone.

The Internet industry must provide enough compelling reasons for older people to come online. For a start, there is a huge need for local content (not mere online versions of newspapers). For example - my mom would surely like to see online versions of magazines that feature designer clothes. I couldn't find any when I searched for them. She'd definitely catch up on episodes online if she missed out on them on TV. Also, she'd rather consume content in Gujarati/Hindi than in English. Unfortunately, none of these content needs are met.

Imagine that the content needs are fulfilled and more older people in India start spending time on the Internet. Surely, the network effects would take over and there would be a wider Internet audience for advertisers to reach out to. And this would keep the online machinery running.

So, where do we begin?


SeReEn ThOtTaN said...

Totally agree that with more regional content there will be better reach as far as advertising is concerned. Firstly regional content(online) for a nation with so many languages is difficult(Cant say impossible). Secondly internet access is still en route to being an everyday thing. The day I see my mom reading Malayalam Manorama Online, we have definitely achieved market penetration to some extend.

Nimish V Adani said...

True Sereen, we have too many languages. But all content need not be in all languages. And even if that is the need, we would do well to at least have substantial content in the top 7-8 regional languages i.e. Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Bengali, Guajarati and Marathi.

G Praveen Kumar said...

instead of we commenting that internet is not penetrating into end to way would be to spread it ourselves...i would make my MOM & DAD to sit on internet whenever Iam in Hyderabad to show them how good it is to use it and iam surprised they send me profile id's from to check my this is Frustrating to make someone learn new things..;-)

Nimish V Adani said...

LOL@Praveen... Praveen, for all you know one of those profiles from BharatMatrimony could end up being your better half and then you'd be thanking your folks. :)

Jitendra said...

though the scenario is totally changed to internet trend but still long way to go to sit in the mind of the people. i agree that internet is source of all but still lack of certain things to attract to the mass . it's all about creating awarness about internet as a whole. take a example of atm - its all about internet process and bank like SBI has installed ATM every corner of the country and even laymen's are using ATM for their banking transaction. but still they are ignorant the how it works.

nothing much to worry about the awarness, people know that some technology is there behing ATM process but they are not sure what is the process. it's just about educating people about the trend. i am sure people will like it and will adopt it and will try to know more about in other related activity of internet.

Nimish V Adani said...

Hi Jitendra, your point is well taken. I differ slightly though. In the case of ATM usage there is a 'need' which the ATM fulfills i.e. accessibility to one's cash in the bank. However, in the current scenario, the Internet does not service any such need when it comes to people who are not from our generation. It's only when there are plenty of useful content sites which service the information needs of older people, will it result in greater Internet adoption. Once the need is felt amongst this audience, they would surely learn to use the Internet just like they have learnt to use ATMs.