India now has the third-largest Internet market in the world with over 137 million users. By 2015, it is projected to have the largest Internet user base, with 300 million users, more than the estimated number for the US.
Releasing the Google Zeitgeist report for 2012
, Rajan Anandan
, Google India's VP and MD for Sales and Operations, said this year's Zeitgeist reflects data from 1.2 trillion searches worldwide in 146 languages. The annual report reveals the hot trends that captured the world's attention in the past year, as seen through Internet searches.
Though Anandan did not divulge the number of searches originating from India, he said smartphone
adoption was clearly the driver. Currently, India has 27 million smartphone users, and is sixth globally on this count. Overall, there are 70 million mobile Internet users in India. "We expect India's next 150-180 million Internet users will access the Internet through a mobile device," said Anandan. Mobile users were still mostly searching for entertainment and local content, in contrast to desktop/notebook users, he added.
Globally, mobile phones are also driving the popularity of YouTube, which is now uploading 72 hours of content every minute. One in three views on YouTube in 2012 was from a mobile device. YouTube now has over 10,000 Indian movies and 500,000 songs.
Anandan said search queries in India grew 62 per cent year-on-year and hinted at the establishment of a "Utilitarian web" in 2012. With more institutions moving their services online, this utilitarian service drove a lot of search volumes. In fact, HDFC was the most searched bank in India, followed by SBI and ICICI.
Another interesting trend was the growing popularity of e-commerce, with 25 million active online buyers in the country driving trade to the tune of $9 billion. As expected, Flipkart
was the most searched shopping website followed by Homeshop18 and Snapdeal. India's e-commerce sites are predicted to reach transactions of more than $40 billion by 2015.
Travel sites were another driver, with Makemytrip generating the most searches, followed by Cleartrip and Redbus.
On the news front, the Bombay Stock Exchange's Sensex was the most searched news topic. Union Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh's death and Hurricane Sandy took the next two spots. Salman Khan was India's most searched male actor, while Katrina Kaif topped the list of female actors. Overall, IBPS (Institute of Banking Personnel Selection), Gate Exams and Sunny Leone were the most trending searches in India in 2012.