Since the industry thrives on technological innovation, protection of intellectual property is of paramount importance for developers. The balance between protection and sharing of technological innovation is part of a larger and often tendentious argument on open source versus proprietary software development. We do not attempt to deconstruct that argument here; merely report that more than eighty per cent of developers were having a common view that intellectual property protection is a major concern for app developers.
However, not all the developers have taken steps to protect intellectual property. This lack of seriousness could be associated with poor revenue potential from apps. Among those who have:
- Some obtained copyrights or patents
- While others worked with individual checks on in-app piracy using code morphing, copy protection, server–based checks, or both etc.
Developers highlighted the well-known challenging issues with a view to help unlock the potential in India’s app market. These include:
- A focus on local and regional content
- An improved landscape for local app developers
- Increased smartphone devices and broadband penetration
- A concerted effort to boost digital literacy awareness and
- An environment that supports technological innovation.
The focus on the easy to tap urban market which typically demands popular global content must inevitably segue to semi-urban and rural areas for the app economy to prosper riding primarily on local and regional content.
A strong verdict of the extensive consultations with app developers including Times internet, Get It Info Media, MindStick Software, Bellurbis and Mobile Harvest is that Indian app developers typically concentrate most of the time on “Coding”. The emphasis on some important elements are lacking like:
- UX and interaction design
The normative view is that this needs to change if Indian apps aim tobecome internationally competitive.
The need to create and build locally relevant content was also a recurrent theme in our interactions. Not only can we unlock latent demand as a result, but also increase the number of employment opportunities beyond English language content. A bigger market for local and regional content could create good externalities even larger than those estimated until. MindStick Software for example faces challenges of a young and relatively fragmented local market. While the market potential is quite massive, achieving scale, a critical attribute for success in networked sectors, is a primary challenge. Although preliminary, our studies also indicate that other benefits of apps in general and local content in particular can provide social cohesion and extension of communications to low income users which have large multiplier effects throughout the economy.