Orkut was one of the first, big social networking websites in the country, owned by Google and named after the employee who created it. In 2008, it was one of the most visited websites in the country until its closing was announced in 2014. Not that this stopped Indians from keeping socializing virtually – the country simply transitioned to Facebook. As of 2020, India had the highest number of Facebook users across the globe with close to 300 million users.
As data packs get cheaper and internet becomes more accessible, more Indians are embracing the digital lifestyle. At the same time, smartphones are increasingly becoming the primary screen for Indian customers. In fact, it seems that India entirely skipped the desktop generation and went straight to mobiles. In 2019, a whopping 99 percent of the rural internet users in the country primarily used mobile phones to access the internet. This means mobile phone applications are a booming market in India.
As a gregarious country, Indians love their social networking apps. In 2020, the highest number of WhatsApp and TikTok mobile app downloads in the world were from India. The average internet user in the country spends over three hours per day on social media. And a large proportion of this user base were millennials and gen Z. In 2018, over 73 percent of Facebook users in India were between 18 and 24 years of age.
Apart from social networking apps, video sharing platforms, specifically YouTube was widely popular in India. YouTube consumption in India sky-rocketed with the Indian Premier League streaming matches in 2010 with over two billion views per day. Of course, this doubled with each season of the IPL thereafter. Around the same time, a relatively unknown (to the outside world) Indian music record label, T-Series, was slowly but steadfastly making its way on YouTube by sharing old Bollywood and indi-pop music. The content took off and today, T-Series was the most viewed and subscribed YouTube channel in the world.
Estimates indicate that by 2023, there will be almost 450 million social network users in the country, from a little over 326 million users in 2018. This rapid growth in the sector has also given stimulus to the advertising industry. Today, India’s digital advertising industry is worth over 160 billion Indian rupees, and it was estimated to reach 560 billion rupees by 2023.