BRIC and the Mobile First Economy

Posted by Ian LeWinter

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Thu, May 7, 2015 @ 04:00 AM

Brazil, Russia, India and China. What do they have in common? Well, economists believe these four countries — collectively known as BRIC countries — are in a comparable phase of economic progress they term “newly advanced.”

Why are the BRIC countries important? Financial clout, pure and simple. Goldman Sachs has predicted the BRIC economies will eclipse the combined economies of the richest countries of the world.1


The Rise of the Mobile First Economies

Back in 2001, investment banker Jim O’Neill wrote a paper titled “Building Better Global Economic BRICs.”2 In it, he coined the acronym, which has become a symbol of economic shift from the G7 economies toward the BRIC nations — a shift from developed to developing economies.

Less than a decade after O’Neill’s report, the BRIC countries accounted for roughly 25 percent of the world’s land area and, equally, 25 percent of the world’s gross national income. The key factor, however, is the size of its population. This quarter of the world’s land area contained over 40% of the world’s population.3

The leaders of the BRIC countries met for their first summit in Yekaterinburg, the fourth-largest city in Russia, where they issued a joint declaration calling for a multi-polar world order. Projections vary as to the future economic clout of the BRIC countries in this new world order. Some believe that the BRIC economies may overtake the G7 economies by as soon as 2027.4

Correspondingly, the BRIC economies have mobile device numbers that are growing so fast, they are being termed “mobile first” economies.

India: A Snapshot of the Mobile First Generation

As you’ve probably guessed from the name, Mobile First means prioritizing an online experience for mobile before the desktop — or any other device. In the past, when users’ focus was on the desktop, mobile design was an afterthought. But today, more people are using their mobile devices for online shopping (M-Commerce) and social networking than ever before. 

Taking a look at a mobile snapshot of India in 2015 paints a telling picture of a mobile first economy. A leader in the BRIC economy, India is growing financially stronger while phones are getting less expensive. Producers in India are now selling smartphones for as little as $70, and have captured almost half of all sales in that market.5

It’s not news that Facebook, the world’s largest social media site, says that it has more than 100 million users in India. What is stunning, is that nearly 84 million of those users access Facebook through their mobile devices.6 (http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2014-04-09/news/49000101_1_javier-olivan-mobile-users-one-billion-users) Some are calling statistics such as this, indicators of the rise of the mobile first generation.

Here are more stats that agree with this characterization:

Mobile adoption rates. India has 405 million unique mobile subscribers out of about 900 million registered mobile connection, of which about 762 million are active (more than twice the population of the United States).7 The only country with more registered mobile connections is China, another BRIC country, with 1.2 billion.8

Mobile Internet. Of nearly 290 million Internet users, 60% (about 174 million)9 access their Internet through their mobile device. This is comparable to the U.S. value of 63%.10

Smartphone purchases. This year, India will see a 40% increase from 100 million smartphones shipped to nearly 140 million. This will also represent an increase from about 19 percent smartphones over feature phones, to about 32 percent — from one-fifth to one-third.11

  1. About 65% of mobile users in India use their devices to message.12 (The U.S. value is 81%).13 89% message at home, while 73% message at work.14

For more information on Voxox’s low calling rates to and from India, see the post in this blog, GOOD NEWS ABOUT CALLING INDIA: SUPER-CHEAP & FREE INTERNATIONAL CALLS

1. “Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC)”. Investopedia. 21 May 2008.

2. O’Neill, Jim (30 November 2001. Building Better Global Economic BRICs, Global Economics Paper No. 66. Goldman Sachs.

3. “BRICnation.com”. Retrieved 15 October 2010.

4. Rana Foroohar (20 March 2009). “BRICs Overtake G7 By 2027”. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 

5. Agustino Fontevecchia (7 July 2014). “India’s 243 Million Internet Users and the Mobile E-Commerce Revolution”. Forbes.com.

6. Shelley Singh (9 April 2014). “After 100 million users in India, Facebook aims at 1 billion”. The Economic Times.

7, 9, 11, 12 and 14. http://www.slideshare.net/mitraarnab1/india-on-internet-2015?related=1

8. List of Countries by Number of Mobile Phones in Use. In Wikipedia. Retrieved 5 May 2015.

10 and 13. http://www.pewinternet.org/fact-sheets/mobile-technology-fact-sheet/

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