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India mobile search supersedes desktop queries, says Google

Business Standard:  August 25, 2015

Search giant Google said search queries from mobile devices from India was now more than desktop driven queries, up from less than 25 per cent in the second half of 2013, because of affordable smartphones and data prices.

“We do not disclose exact numbers (of mobile-desktop split), but mobile is more than 50 per cent,’ said Sandeep Menon, India marketing director for Google. The share of mobile and desktop search was equal last year, but this year, it had exceeded, he added.

In May this year, Google had mentioned that users in the US and Japan preferred search using their smartphones rather than desktops and tablets.  

Google said the surge in mobile queries in India was supported by strong smartphone sales, estimated at close to six million every month. Internet users in the country has been calculated at 350 million by the first half of 2015, of which 65 per cent use mobile to access internet.

The trend of more search using mobiles is of significance for Google, as it competes with Facebook to tap into the growing mobile advertisement segment. India is a strategic market, as it is the fastest growing smartphone market along with a growing internet user base.

According to a vision report prepared by the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), total internet users in India are expected to be 500 million by 2017, of which smartphone data users would be 490 million.

The numbers assume significance as India, being the second largest internet user in the world, is the biggest market for Google and other advertisement driven website companies after the United States. The shift in internet usage also indicates  the kind of change the  Rs 5,000-crore Indian digital advertising market will witness in times to come.

“A few months ago, Facebook reported that its mobile traffic was higher than desktop traffic in India. Now, it has happened with Google. It means advertisers have to come up with more content for mobiles too as advertisement spending is expected to go up,” said Hareesh Tibrewala, joint chief executive officer of Social Wavelength, a digital advertising firm.

Indian digital advertising is still tilted towards desktop versions of websites, as it attracts better prices and offers more space than mobile. But the trend has been witnessing a change with the never-before-seen rise of mobile internet consumers in the country.

During April-June period, nearly all Indian telecom carriers reported more than 50 per cent jump in internet data traffic from a year ago period, attributing the growth to rising consumer base for third generation (3G) internet services.

To catch up with mobile consumers, industry sources said, search engines like Google has been asking all websites coming through it to must have a mobile version. In April this year, Google changed it mobile search algorithm that will affect website rankings and will bring it close to higher advertisement revenue from cell phones. The changes meant websites that are not mobile friendly will drop down in rankings, a move described as 'Mobilegeddon'.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.