Three-fourths of its online population is under 35, says comScore report

India has bypassed Japan to become the world’s third largest Internet user after China and the United States, and its users are significantly younger than those of other emerging economies, global digital measurement and analytics firm comScore has said in a report.

India now has nearly 74 million Internet users, a 31 per cent increase over March 2012, the report says.

The numbers are lower than other recent estimates, possibly reflecting comScore’s methodology that only factors in PC and laptop-based Internet usage.

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) pegged the number of Internet subscribers in India at 164.81 million as of March 31, 2013, with seven out of eight accessing the Internet from their mobile phones.

The comScore report, on the other hand, puts mobile and tabled-based Internet traffic at just 14% of the total.

“Mobile phone based Internet usage is a key component of Indian Internet usage, and I’d say the recent growth is being driven by mobile Internet usage,” Nilotpal Chakravarti, spokesperson of the Internet and Mobile Association of India told The Hindu on Thursday. In addition, many Netizens were using dongles to access the Internet.

Three-fourths of India’s online population is under 35 as against just over half worldwide, the comScore report, India Digital Future in Focus 2013, says, possibly reflecting India’s more recent improvements in literacy.

Men under 35 and women between 35 and 44 are heavier users. But women account for less than 40 per cent of all Indian users, a far lower sex ratio than that of other countries.

A quarter of time spent online is on social media, the comScore report says, and another 23 per cent on email.

While Google sites have the most unique visitors, Net users spend the most time on Facebook, which is at second place as far as unique visitors are concerned.

Yahoo, Microsoft and Wikimedia sites follow in unique visitor numbers.

Among social media sites, Linkedin and Twitter are the next most popular, while Orkut is in decline. Google is by far the most popular search engine, accounting for 90 per cent of all searches in India.

Online retail is on the rise, with domestic retail sites being the most popular, the report notes. For online travel websites too, domestic websites are the most popular, the Indian Railways’ website being by far the most popular destination. Yahoo is also the most popular site for news.

The locus of online dominance has moved steadily towards Asia, which now accounts for 41% of all Internet users; from having 66% of all users in 1996, the United States now accounts for just 13%.

China has the world’s biggest online presence; Its Internet users outnumber Indians by a ratio of 5: 1. Brazil’s Internet presence grew faster than India’s over the last year.