India’s Internet users are expected to breach the half billion mark in 2019, with roughly equal percentages residing in urban and rural areas. 97% of these users will use a mobile phone as one of the devices to access the Internet. 

As these users come online for the first time, there is wide-ranging impact on their behaviour, societal structures and consumption patterns. Insight into these changes is vital for anyone addressing this audience, be it designers, businesses, developmental organisations or policy makers. We cannot look to the West for direction or inspiration, as this evolution is unique to India or perhaps to all emerging economies. The next billion users represent both unique challenges and opportunities and these can only be crystallised and appreciated through a contextual lens. 

Interestingly, these challenges are not new. Before the wave of tech-led platforms, FMCG companies have long led efforts to understand and adapt products in order to reach wider audiences, as shown by innovations like the sachet.

Next Billion Stories is a collaborative effort by The Hard Copy and strategic design studio Obvious.  We believe that the timing is right for us to pause and reflect on lessons learnt so far and debate the way forward.

Our mission is to share stories of the change that the rapid adoption of technology is bringing to the lives of the next billion users in India. We hope to create the opportunity and space for conversations about the implications of this change for the design of products, experiences, systems and policies. 

Our focus areas 

We are currently focused on these areas, but always on the lookout for other emerging trends.

  • Gig economy 
  • Future of interfaces 
  • Global tech, local users 
  • Social media 
  • Financial inclusion 
  • Intersections and Institutions 

Our approach 

We are collaborating with think-tanks, academics, researchers and writers who have worked extensively in an area we are interested in. Over the next few months, you will see stories from people who are deeply steeped in an area of study related to the next billion users. As they narrate their findings and put forth their viewpoint, we hope to take their work further and explore implications for design and product development. 

If you are working in any of the fields listed above, we’d love to hear from you. Do send in a few details and we will be in touch. 

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