Much has been talked about the next billion users on Internet in India and how they will change the entire ecosystem. US-based travel e-commerce company Booking Holdings recently surveyed three most populous Asian markets -- India, China and Indonesia -- to understand how the new users who are coming online in these countries would use Internet. For this, the company targeted two demographics: tech experts and tech leaders in these three countries, as they understand both the potential of technology and have on-the-ground insights about how their fellow citizens will use the Internet.
When asked what the next billion would use the Internet for, respondents' answers included: to use social media (75 per cent), to consume news (71 per cent), to buy goods and services (67 per cent), for entertainment (66 per cent), for job searches (66 per cent) and for dining (51 per cent).
However, the respondents also cited language as a key barrier to accessibility of Internet in these countries. "Significantly, one of the main barriers was not technical but human -too much content is in English, which only a minority of the region's citizens can read," the survey report said.
"When we analysed the major barriers to Internet access, a surprising culprit emerged: language. Three quarters of respondents (76 per cent) believe that one of the biggest barriers to Internet adoption is the lack of understanding of the English language. This is true across all three countries surveyed," it added.
Along with language difficulties, respondents cited a lack of online security (84 per cent), concerns about government censorship (71 per cent), a lack of useful local content (68 per cent) and fear of new technology (57 per cent) as potential disincentives to mass online participation. In fact, majority of (78 per cent) respondents in these countries believe that all citizens should have equal access to Internet connectivity.
"This is significant for three markets which are characterised by high levels of income inequality (India has a Gini Coefficient of 51.48, China of 46.79 and Indonesia of 38.910). Leaders in all three countries have come to appreciate the importance of connectivity to their future economic fortunes, but also to the robustness of the social contract in their countries," the survey said.
Last year, Google had released a report titled 'Unlocking Digital for Bharat', which highlighted some of the challenges businesses, which want to address this new segment, may face. According to the report, the segment is fast emerging on Internet and presents a $50 billion opportunity for businesses. However, monetising this audience would take some time.