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Unencumbered by legacy internet infrastructure, in many markets mobile has taken off as the primary digital touch-point. As smartphones become cheaper and connectivity improves there has been a corresponding uplift in mobile device penetration in markets across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. And it’s that widespread adoption that characterises many growth economies as mobile first.

Ahead of MEF Global Forum Mobile First Markets in Bangalore next week, we take a look at why India is one of the countries at the forefront of this trend.

With its entrepreneurial mentality, millions of dollars being invested by international VCs and rocketing valuations for the hottest poster-boys of e (and) mCommerce such as Flipkart and Snapdeal, digital India is an exciting place to be right now.

The massive addressable domestic market is in part responsible for why certain Indian cities have become innovation hubs in their own right driven by the services and opportunities demanded by a newly internet enabled population. Sectors such as mHealth, education, banking and agriculture have all shown significant increases as the mobile ecosystem continues to expand to meet these new consumer needs, driven by access and affordability.

1. India has 405 million unique mobile subscribers out of about 900 million registered mobile connections, of which about 762 million are active (more than twice the population of the United States).

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2. Facebook has over 100 million users in India. Nearly 84 million of those users access Facebook through their mobile devices and with its (sometimes controversial) internet.org initiative this is set to see continued accelerated growth.

3. Of nearly 290 million Internet users, 60% (about 174 million) access the Internet through their mobile device. In the US its 63%.

4. This year, India will see a 40% increase from 100 million smartphones shipped to nearly 140 million – an increase from one fifth of all devices to one third.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 13.36.365. Flying the flag for Android with $100 smartphones from companies like local giants like Micromax – the Google OS has 60% of market share (March 2015) in India with Apple nowhere in sight.

Just last October, SoftBank Chairman Masayoshi Sonin said in a statement: “We believe India is at a turning point in its development and have confidence that India will grow strongly over the next decade. As part of this belief, we intend to deploy significant capital in India over the next few years to support development of the market.”

Indian start-up investments increased by 300% in Q1 2015 with new businesses raising $1.7 billion from investors, beating China in the number of done deals. Breaking that down, mobile received 8.4% of the investment with payments, consumer web and e-commerce – all of which have a major mobile component – making up a further 69.6% of the pie (source, Your Story Research).

As the Indian market, along with other mobile-first territories, continues to gather such significant momentum, the extent of the opportunity of doing business in such an exciting climate becomes difficult to ignore – is your mobile business ready to take on the challenge?

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 15.34.09Join MEF members, speakers and delegates On June 30, for MEF Global Forum Mobile First Markets.  Launched in 2013 in Silicon Valley #MEFGF connects global mobile leaders, innovators and heads of business from different vertical sectors to learn, engage and share best practice, monetisation strategies and models. #MEFGF is a dedicated look at the trends, consumer needs and success cases of rapidly growing mobile-first markets across South East Asia, Middle East and Africa. The 50+ speaker line-up includes Ola, Baidu, Twitter, LINE, Mozilla, Foodpanda, Reliance Games and many more.  Full agenda and speaker line-up available online.

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