Hey App Developers: The Indian Market Demands Your Attention
The Indian app market may not be front-of-mind for you yet, but if recent data (and the behavior of major companies) is anything to go by, you’ll want to give this emerging market a serious second look.
First things first: India’s population is four times that of the United States (1.2bn), which means that even at a lower smartphone penetration rate of about 30%, the country has just as many if not more smartphones in regular use now as the US.
That’s a lot of eyeballs on a lot of devices that could be running your apps, and in 2016 alone the Indian market proved it wasn’t messing around, tallying a staggering 6 billion app downloads.
What kinds of apps are popular? What are some gaps/opportunities?
The Indian smartphone market certainly has its nuances, and usage spans from apps that are household names in the US/EU (Facebook, Whatsapp, Tinder, Google Maps) to those who are relatively unknown outside of India’s borders, like Flipkart (an Amazon competitor) and Cricbuzz (an app aggregating cricket scores and news).
The market itself is growing at 40% or more year over year (note: much of this growth is on Android rather than iOS), which means that millions of new users are seeing app stores for the first time each and every month.
As the market matures, expect many of the same types of services and platforms that are popular among smartphone users elsewhere in the world to become popular in the Indian market.
Making a play early gives your app a chance to establish itself as a default market choice, something that’s much harder in the more crowded and established western app markets.
“I’m not convinced.”
Too bad then, you’re wrong.
Alright, in all seriousness, someone needing a nudge to give India serious consideration for their upcoming app needs to look no further than the efforts of some of the world’s largest companies:
- Facebook has made an enormous effort at implanting their communication apps like Whatsapp and Messenger as default downloads for Indian users. They’ve even made ‘lite’ versions of apps in the past to reduce app files sizes and make downloading them easier on less advanced carrier networks in the country.
- Yahoo, struggling as it may be, has released an app development toolkit to the Indian market, recognizing that India’s app surge is more than capable of coming from within, with its massive pool of developers.
- Barely a year ago, Netflix launched in India, racing to compete with local services like Hotstar (no, it’s not what it sounds like) and other services already gaining traction in the country.
These are just a few of the companies whose actions clearly indicate that they think India is worth their time and attention, which means yours just might be too.
Your app(s) might be well suited for the Indian market if…
- You intend to launch and maintain an Android version of your app
- You will put in the effort to get a Hindi version of your app created. Only about 10% of Indians speak English (though, admittedly, this is still a large number of around 125 million), so localizing language support will no doubt help expand your reach. Remember, India is a large country of working professionals, but cost of living and wages are comparatively low against western markets, so translations can be acquired quite easily and cheaply.
- Your business model does not rely on in-app purchases or hefty subscriptions. Due to the relatively low purchasing power of the rupee, it may be difficult for microtransaction-heavy apps to generate satisfactory revenue, even if the same app is thriving in another market.
As a developer, it’s important to explore the possibility of how your projects might be able to thrive in markets outside of your own. Right now, India in particular represents rapid growth in the mobile sector, and with the attention of some of the world’s largest corporations focused there, that might not be growth you should ignore.
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