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Evolution of Mobile App Economy in India


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Evolution of Mobile App Economy in India


India is a very good source of gigantic demand for apps. Even though smartphone penetration is estimated at just 15 percent of total mobile users, India experiences more than 100 million downloads per month placing it amongst the top three regions for Google Play, the official Android app store. The total number of 3G SIMS in India is also expected to increase from 44 million in 2013 to an impressive 315 million by 2018. India also significantly contributes to mobile app development as roughly around fourteen per cent of total apps worldwide are developed by Indians either based overseas or at home. In 2011, Indian service providers debuted in app distribution when Bharti launched the Airtel App Central online store. Although, the success was limited due to the uncompetitive revenue sharing contracts. App distribution in India is therefore, dominated by globally popular app stores such as:


·         Android’s Google Play,

·         Nokia’s Ovi Store and

·         Apple’s App Store.


This is in sharp contrast to other Asian economies such as South Korea and China where local app stores play an equal, if not greater role, in the dissemination and payment of apps than their international counterparts.


India’s rapidly expanding middle class consumer market will inevitably make the switch from feature phones to smartphones creating vast amount of opportunities for new entrants. Currently, more than half of Indian smartphone users access the internet daily through their device and nearly all never leave their homes without it. This shows the emerging importance of smartphones to Indian society. Affordability of mobile data is another key factor accelerating this trend. According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) India is among one of  the cheapest countries for a phone plan with data.


India also represents an opportunity at the ‘Base of the Pyramid’ users due to the higher potential demand for affordable smartphones and apps from this segment. Unlike developed markets where the Android/Apple duopoly on the operating system (OS )level is firmly established due to the high penetration of Apple iPhones and Samsung smartphones, India offers space for other operating systems, particularly those that are designed to operate on lower-end devices (OS platforms like Symbian still enjoy significant market share in India and the Firefox OS is also expected to gain traction).  Other platforms such as Android One are also targeted at smartphone first timers, but yet to take off in India. There is a corresponding opportunity for handset manufacturers to design and manufacture devices that can support apps at suitable price-points for this segment. India has been acknowledged as a highly price sensitive market that explains in part the dominance of the Android.


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