#10YearChallenge: Recapping India's 2009, when IPL grew into a carnival, Flipkart was sole e-commerce player

  • In 2009, the Indian Premier League's viewership was 200 million, while it was 730 million last year.

  • Flipkart was the buzzword in e-commerce. Amazon was nowhere to be seen, Snapdeal was a year away, but eBay was still around.

  • The growth of mobile connectivity is one thing that’s truly democratised in India over the last decade.

The first article in this series took a look at how some global technologies and companies fared ten years ago. In the second part, we look at more India-specific subjects, so people don't think the author was deliberately leaving them out. Because one thing that has definitely changed in the last decade in India is our ability to spontaneously outrage at the most insignificant of things. Let’s see what the #10YearChallenge would look like, for…

The Indian Premier League

 #10YearChallenge: Recapping Indias 2009, when IPL grew into a carnival, Flipkart was sole e-commerce player

It’s staggering to think the Indian Premier League (IPL) is just a decade old, given how deeply mired into Indian culture and international cricketing schedules it is. That being said, the first edition of the tournament cast no doubt that the Bollywood-meets-shortened-cricket carnival was going to be anything but a runaway success. The sophomore edition of the IPL, in 2009, was held in South Africa as it turned out to be an election year. This year though, it’ll be played at home (someone probably realised more people care about the IPL?).

So, how has the IPL changed? In 2009, the viewership was 200 million, while it was 730 million last year, and the digital viewership on Hotstar has been a massive contributor. The winning team’s prize money increased from 4.5 crores to 20 crores, while advertising has gotten unsurprisingly expensive as well (3.5-4 lakhs, to 10 lakhs on average). This machine doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down any time soon, though you might still have trouble remembering who won the last IPL.

e-Commerce in India


In 2009, just one word: Flipkart. Amazon was nowhere to be seen, Snapdeal was a year away, eBay was still around, and nobody thought we’d be buying vegetables online. The last decade has been enthralling — the stuff of BSchool-marketing-case-study legend: acquisitions, cashbacks, some iconic advertising (Flipkart’s kids vs Amazon’s Aur Dikhao), innovations (cash on delivery is a bigger achievement than some of us might think), fuelled by deep pockets and driven by some significant talent. Indeed, thanks to Flipkart and its ilk, startups (not just e-commerce) became a desirable post-education destination.

In 2009, Indian e-commerce was worth $3.9 billion. Today, that number has massively changed and estimates vary depending on who you ask. But most experts agree the $100 billion mark will be breached by 2022. Now, you get pretty much anything you want online, and arguably easier than in developed countries: groceries, expensive TVs, medicines, plumbing & domestic help services, audiophile headphones, entertainment, news. Heck, even your neighourhood pav-bhaji vendor accepts Paytm. The same one who asked you how you managed to buy a book from your computer in 2009.

The rupee to dollar conversion rate


1 Jan, 2009: 1 USD = 48.26 INR

1 Jan, 2019: 1 USD = 69.99 INR

(Fun side stat: In this period, global oil prices actually fell from $61.95 per barrel to $50.58)

Moving swiftly along.



It’s hard to sum up all that’s happened in a busy decade in India, in one paragraph, but in a nutshell: Both the UPA and NDA governments have delivered reasonably well on this front, especially highways and roads-building. Mumbai’s citizens are now used to a state of perennial 'Work in progress, inconvenience regretted'. Nationally, several projects are about optics than actual practicality: For instance, there’s been a lot of brouhaha about building toilets, but the lack of proper plumbing means the toilets are as useful as a car without tyres. Not to mention the headline-ready bullet train, which turned out to be a dud. And in 2019 — an election year — the political payoff of building statues seems to be more than that of railway stations.

Mobile connectivity


Last but not least, this is one thing that’s truly democratised in India over the last decade. While a starker comparison would be 1999-2019 (remember when we used to pay for incoming calls?), it’s still pretty significant. Now, you can have a functioning phone for less than Rs 700, a working smartphone for  Rs 3000 and a more than decent one for Rs 5000.

And look at what’s happened in between: Telecom companies have spent millions advertising in all languages, reception hardly drops anymore, companies and industries have been built around mobile apps, a generation has come online for the first time, bypassing computers altogether. Entertainment companies are going mobile-first instead of as an afterthought. And culturally? Our lives revolve around the phone (probably a bit too much). Uncles who couldn’t figure out how to use the VCR greet you every morning on Whatsapp. You can pay your bhel-puri-wala on Whatsapp. The inflexion point of the last decade was, of course, was Reliance Jio knocking everyone out of the water. The mobile story over the last decade has been so huge, we even got one of our biggest scams out of it!

Updated Date: Jan 25, 2019 11:13:17 IST