NEW DELHI: The number of Indian internet users will exceed the US total by the end of 2014 a leading industry figure has said.

Rajan Anandan, managing director, Google India, made the claim while addressing the Digitising India event organised by FICCI and reported by India Today. "By the end of this year, India will become larger than the US in terms of number of internet users," he declared. "By 2018, India will have twice the number of internet users as the US does."

At that rate India will have 500m people connected to the internet, or almost half the population, within four years.

The speed and scale of this development is extraordinary. Anandan pointed out it had taken ten years for the country to move from having 10m internet users to having 100m, but it was now adding 5m new users every month.

"We have seen nothing yet in terms of what the internet can do to every aspect of life, of society and of governance," he said. In retail terms, for example, the path to purchase was already changing as people increasingly turned to online platforms to buy goods and services.

"Everything is getting accelerated with technology," Anandan noted. "Every new wave of technology has taken half as long as the previous technology. The next big thing will take half the time taken by smartphones."

Smartphones had taken eight years to reach one billion consumers, but he expected wearable technology to achieve that within the next four years.

Wearable devices are "taking on computing", he stated. "All these wearable devices will penetrate across the world very fast, and with it technology will get better and better."

Alongside wearables he anticipated that software would have a major impact on traditional industries, such as automotive. "The next big thing that could happen is the driverless car," he said. "In the next 20 years, in our lifetime, software can do anything."

Data sourced from India Today; additional content by Warc staff