The Economic and Societal Value of Rich Interaction Applications in India

The study that WIK conducted supported by Broadband India Forum (BIF) finds that Rich Interaction Applications (RIAs) like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts and Hike create a consumer surplus of US$98 billion (INR 6.3 lakh crores) in India. This is equivalent to 4.3% of India’s GDP of US$2264 billion (INR 147 lakh crores) in 2016. Each user of RIAs in India receives on average US$249 (INR 16,185) of consumer surplus annually. Applied to the entire population—not just RIA users—this results in US$74 per capita (INR 4,810) Globally, a 10% increase in RIA usage lead to US$1 billion (INR 6,500 crores) in additional GDP daily.

The Report unveiled by the Telecom Secretary, Ms Aruna Sundararajan and senior dignitaries of the Broadband Industry is the first to focus directly on the value added by RIAs for consumers in India. RIAs as defined by the study include applications such as Google Hangouts, iMessage, WhatsApp, as well as India-based applications such as Hike Messenger, JioChat Messenger, Lookup, Flock and Nimbuzz, which have become increasingly popular means of personal and business interaction. The average RIA has close to 9 functions.

The study establishes that these applications play a disproportionately important role in India when compared to other Asia-Pacific (APAC) countries. In fact, a consistently larger share of internet subscribers in India than in any other APAC country uses these applications. A survey of internet subscribers in India further confirmed that RIA users typically utilize at least five out of six RIA functions. The six core functions of RIAs analyzed in the study include: (1) ordinary calling, (2) video calling, (3) texting, (4) sending pictures, (5) sending videos, and (6) group chats. The analysis of the survey further established that RIA usage on average saved 803.9 minutes per week.

RIAs can furthermore bridge the digital divide by offering new options to individuals who otherwise have limited access to telecommunications services and little knowledge about more complex computers. Indeed, if used well, RIAs could be a critical tool to drive the Digital India Programme.

The study is available for download.

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