BENGALURU — Dog walkers in a gated community do not just take dogs out for a walk; they busily watch movies on their cell phones, unaware the dog is relieving itself on well-manicured Mexican grass lawns outside houses, earning the wrath of the house owners.

When the mistress of the house is not at home, maids wash vessels and clothes in slow motion. They are multi-tasking – washing as well as getting entertained by the sitcoms on their cell phone screens. If the mistress is at home, it is just audio but when no one is around to supervise, it’s video all the time.

And, unbelievable as it might seem, this goes for carpenters and painters too. They tend to video chat with their endless list of friends in a language that most of us don’t understand. It’s only basic survival instinct that prevents accidents -work, of course is in slow motion but there is a little more concentration thrown in drilling or sawing lest they get physically injured.

This scenario plays out well against the backdrop of the “Nielsen Smartphone 2018" report which states Indian subscribers on an average use of 1GB data per day internet on a smartphone, up from an average 4GB a month in the year 2016.

The report said the user spends more than 90 minutes on online activities, daily across the entry-level, mid and premium segments.

India has emerged among the most preferred smartphone markets in the world owing to affordable handset prices and low-cost data penetration, triggering a huge replacement demand among the customers across segments.

“The advent of high-speed 4G Internet, less-expensive mobile handsets and a correction in call data charges have encouraged the speedy adoption of smartphones in India," said Abhijit Matkar, Director-Technology IPG - Nielsen India.

Chinese & Indian phones act as catalysts

Chinese and Indian handset makers have launched affordable handsets at under $70 (Rs 5,000), to meet the demand of the mass market.

"This sudden influx of affordable smartphones created a whole segment of new consumers who either upgraded from feature phones or were new mobile users altogether," Matkar said in a statement.

When it comes to app usage, chat and VoIP apps dominate usage across customer segment followed by browser apps. Interestingly, uTorrent Beta app dominates across categories when it comes of consumption of data, followed by YouTube across customer segments, according to the report.

The user habits of Indian smartphone subscribers highlight that users across the segments (entry level, mid and premium) spend more than 90 minutes a day on online activities while the premium segment takes the usage up to 130 minutes per day.

"The price of handsets and data is emerging as a remarkable surrogate for monitoring the ever-widening set of users and their smartphone usage, thereby facilitating business and marketing strategy for better return on investment (ROI)", Matkar added.

Despite the availability of economically-priced smartphones, average smartphone prices are still increasing. "In fact, the average cost has steadily risen from about $100 in 2015 to about $150 in 2017," the report pointed out.

Data consumption driven by local video content

The appetite for data consumption has risen over the last 15 to 18 months. The highest engagement occurs on apps that consume a lot of data like Facebook, WhatsApp Messenger, Instagram and Google Chrome, the Nielsen report said.

Interestingly there was a Nokia MbIT 2018 report released in February this year which had also said that data consumption was driven by video, which contributed 65 to 75 per cent of total mobile data traffic. This was powered by the availability of Hindi and regional language content, as well as the proliferation of original over-the-top (OTT) only series.

"In 2017, Hindi and regional languages comprised more than 90 per cent of popular videos watched online," Amit Marwah, head of customer marketing and communication, Nokia India, Marwah had said.

On average, an Indian subscriber consumed 7.4 GB of data per user per month on their mobile devices over mobile networks alone, placing India ahead of developed markets like the UK, South Korea and France, as per the Nokia MbIT report.

The average consumption over both Wi-Fi and mobile networks in India was 8.8 GB data per user per month, on par with other developed markets, Marwah attributed the increase in data consumption to lower tariffs, expansion of 3G and 4G coverage in 2017.

"The 4G network expansion was supported by the dramatic growth of LTE devices in the country, with 9 out of 10 smartphones shipped in 2017 supporting 4G. The LTE (4G)-capable device base grew to 218 million in 2017, with 74 per cent being Voice over LTE (VoLTE) capable as well," Marwah said.

"On one side, we do have financial stress but at the same time, data usage increases..., it creates opportunity in the market," NokiaVP and India Market Head, Sanjay Malik had pointed out while sharing details for pattern till December 2017.

— Sufia Tippu is a freelance tech journalist based in India contributing to EE Times India