Search engine giant Google expects India's Internet users to triple by 2014. India is currently the third-largest internet market by users, behind China and the US, despite only eight per cent of its population being internet users.
Google's India country head, Rajan Anandan, told The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) in an interview that the company forecasts India will reach at least 300 million internet users by 2014, up from about 100 million now as telecom carriers invest in high-speed wireless infrastructure and smartphones becoming cheaper.
"Despite a lot of the infrastructure challenges we have as a country, 100 million Indians are online, they're spending a huge amount of time online and they're doing a varied set of things online," says Anandan.
WSJ quoted Anandan saying, most of the next 200 million Indian Web users would access the net on the high-speed wireless networks, currently being rolled out by internet service providers. However, he expects handset makers bringing out discounted smartphones that the masses can afford, that would boost net usage and commerce.
But making money from the huge emerging internet users will be difficult as television and a handful of top tier newspapers monopolise the advertising market and the government creates new te.
"Making money off that growing audience, though, is proving difficult thus far for Google and other internet companies," Anandan told the WSJ.
Indian online ad spending is only about $200 million per year of the $80 billion global digital advertising, while e-commerce in India generates only about $5 billion in revenue compared to about $80 billion in China.
Despite the bleak financial figures, Google is estimated to dominate the internet business in the country.