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Biggest internet user additions may be in India

Singapore: There are 2.2 billion internet users worldwide. Google is now focusing its efforts to get the next one billion users online by 2015. Half of these users, Google says, will come from the emerging markets.

“And a quarter of the next billion coming online will be from India," says Julian Persaud, MD of Google Southeast Asia. He says new users will access the internet for the first time on a mobile device and not on a desktop.

Persaud says India has more mobile-based internet traffic than desktop traffic. Citing World Bank reports, he says internet users in India grew from 61 million in 2009 to 125 million in 2011, about 10% of its population. On the other hand, 18% of the Indonesian population used the internet, 35% in Vietnam, 29% in the Philippines, 61% in Malaysia and 23.7% in Thailand. The smart phone penetration is higher in Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam while India is the fastest growing market globally for mobile search queries on Google.

Persaud defines emerging markets as countries that are beginning to embrace the internet and technology as a path toward greater economic, social and cultural vitality. This includes countries with a combined population of 3.3 billion, of whom 14%, or 474 million people, are internet users now.

Asia is the centre of the new growth, with more users coming online in Asia every day than anywhere else in the world. Yet the penetration rates remain among the lowest in the world. In the world, half of those who do not have the internet reside in just five countries, all in Asia: India, Indonesia, China, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Lalithesh Katragadda, country head for products in Google India, says “the biggest part of the next billion, if we do it right, will be from India and hence Google's focus on that country.”

(The correspondent was in Singapore on the invitation of Google)