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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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India, the new Internet star

2 April 2019

In the beginning, the internet was largely a US thing.

DARPA built a lot of the infrastructure and much of the content to be found on the nascent WWW came out of US universities.

As time went on, the Net spread wider and its appeal grew to non-academic entities such that by the turn of the century, it was everywhere and being used by a lot of people.

Businesses were using email and websites to facilitate their operations, people were creating their own online presences, either by way of "home pages" on their ISP's servers or through social media sites such as Geocities, Facebook and whatever, and many other organisations had a profile in cyberspace.

What was missing was a non-English-language presence and non-Western nations.

Oh my, how that is changing... and quickly!

The place where you can now see the most rapid pace of change in this area is on YouTube.

Until recently, the most subscribed YouTube channel was Pewdiepie (God knows why). Interestingly, although this guy is Swedish, his channel is presented in English... which kind of confirms what I was saying earlier about the prevalence of this language on the Net.

In the past year or so however, an Indian company has been threatening to topple our Swedish friend from his throne and according to a report published today, that company (T-Series) has won.

So, in the course of just a year or two, India has come from almost nowhere, to hold the crown of "most subscribed YouTube Channel".

How did that happen?

Well it seems that India has suddenly embraced the internet and Indian content is popping up at an amazing rate, especially on social media.

I regularly search YouTube for new content with the search-term "RC Plane" and up until about 6 months ago, this would produce pretty much the same number and range of videos. They were all English-language and usually showed either keen amateurs enjoying a hobby or eager reviewers wanting to cash in on shilling products then making money from affiliate links.

There has been a marked change in that demographic of late.

Now I'm seeing a rapid growth in videos out of India purporting to show DIY projects such as this:

Unbelievably, this video alone has had over 800,000 views and with about half a dozen ads embedded in it, that's likely to have earned the creator nearly NZ$2,000 or 38,000 Rs. Given that the average income in India is barely 80,000 Rs it is clear why so many Indian entrepreneurs are turning to the Net (including making YouTube videos) to improve their fortunes. The creator of this video earned almost half the average annual salary from one single video!

Sadly, there is a down-side for the rest of us in this. There are now a rapidly growing number of really crappy videos appearing which promise a lot more than they deliver. Take this one for example.

But almost 13 million views???? WTF?

It's also interesting to see how many Indian creators are rolling out videos on other, more technical subjects and doing so in Hindi. Here is a perfect example:

So there you have it... zero to success in about a year. At this rate, India could become a significant player in the online content market -- both as a creator and a consumer.

The pace of change in the online world still astounds!

Is the West being left behind? With Facebook, Google, YouTube and other forms of social media now facing heavy scrutiny and regulation, has the "Western Internet" peaked already? Are countries such as India going to become the new Net-superpowers?

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