500 Million New India Internet Users by 2017?

Google India has launched the Indian Language Internet Alliance, an initiative to promote local language content, increasing the relevance of the Internet in India for up to 500 million new Indian users by 2017.

Google also announced its Hindi Voice Search and a new website hindiWeb.com, which shall offer curated content in Hindi.

Localization of content is one obstacle to be overcome to connect up to four billion people who do not presently use the Internet. About 56 percent of web content is in English despite the fact that less than five percent of the world’s population speak it as a first language, with only 21 percent estimated to have some level of understanding. Hindi accounts for 0.1 percent of web content.

Localized content will increase the value of using the web, stimulating demand.

Device cost also is an issue Google is working on, with Android generally and Android One, specifically. Android One enables production and use of  devices with standardized hardware, stock Android experience and timely updates, priced at or below Rs 5000 (US$81). Lower device costs will create a wide basis of Internet capable devices.

Also, Internet service providers have to get the cost of going online within easy reach. That generally is viewed as a recurring price for access that represents no more than two percent to three percent of income.

Of the world’s seven billion people, 2.7 billion have access to the Internet, while 4.3 billion do not.

Most of them live in developing countries.

Though it still is possible to argue about whether the high adoption of Internet access and higher degree of economic development are causal or correlated, even those who might tend to think high Internet access and higher economic development are correlated, not causal, might support fastest possible adoption of Internet access everywhere, for the same reasons it was deemed important to provide voice communications to everyone.

If developing countries were to catch up with levels of internet access in developed economies today, they would reach a penetration level of around 75 percent, more than tripling the number of present “global south” Internet users from 800 million to three billion.

Of the new global south Internet users, some 700 million would be in Africa, 200 million in Latin America and 1.3 billion in Asia.
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