Wrong prejudice preconceptions?

India is a huge country with over 1.2 billion people. So we should think its huge for games, smartphones or computers. But it isn't. Mechanics we learn to use to market products no longer work in that country. We wrongly assume that our market mechanics work in countries like India, or Russia, or Brasil. Why is this?

To understand those markets and people you have to understand how they developed.

We have grown up with home computers, then switched to PC, then hooked the PC up to the internet. Then we got smartphones and went online with them too. This is our pattern and this can be used to target us for marketing or to look for similarities when launching products.

In markets like China or India people never had home computers. Or PC's. When the internet came they had to go to internet cafes to go online. This means that they encountered gaming as online only, as those games were default installed and people usually went to those places in groups, i.e. in social groups to play together. That is one reason why online games are so huge in Asia: they never experienced the grand history of single player games.

What else is different? Well if you do not have a computer at home how do you manage the daily tasks where we usually access the internet? Mobile. In India and China the primary access to the internet including search engines are mobile phones. At one time the number of searches on mobile in China was larger than searches on Google - worldwide.

In the days of the smartphone this doesn't sound that strange, but you have to realize that even before the iPhone revolutionized the phone market that the Asians went online with their phones. They had their own standards, search engines and even the UMTS network was implemented sooner than here. I remember a time where I had to rent an UMTS phone for Korea as their phones were already pure digital.

Let us return to India. The reason why I use that example is that we operate in free to play business and usually you target people by using Google Adsense or Facebook ads (Facebook has only a 5% penetration - still 62m people though). Now in India when no one is sitting in front of his computer - how do you get them to actually notice your product?

A good friend of mine told me how to target India, and this actually ruined my plans to launch games in India "easily" without leaving my office:

Billboards it is. Can you imagine to fill India with its vast space and huge cities with enough billboards to get noticed? That's tough - close to impossible. So how about mobile? Apple has some problem in India selling their iPhone but so does Samsung.

India still has very strong local providers who tune their services and phones to the populations specific attributes mostly using phone types we no longer use so it will be hard to break through them. To target people through those custom services is even harder. So time will tell.

So that are a couple of reasons why a country with 1.2 billion people isn't a huge gaming market yet. And that also means that rather sooner or later India will explode and be a huge market for all of us. Better be prepared. Otherwise you will miss markets like you did miss Brazil. Brazil you ask? Well ... research yourself, its huge already for online games - it already exploded.