India has long been a back-office for almost every major smartphone app franchise. Name any major app (barring Angry Birds, though) and there will be some element of the app, if not all, which was coded by developers based here in India. This arrangement was perfect during the early days of app stores, considering India was still a predominantly dumbphone or feature phone market and there was very little return on investment if anyone did create an app for Indian audience. However, things are a changing. Also Read - OnePlus Nord CE 5G vs Motorola Moto G 5G: Which one is a better choice?
According to our friends at Convergence Catalyst, India’s smartphone sales will double this year from about 9.5 million units to as high as 20 million units. Try shopping for a feature phone today and you won’t find one easily if your budget is over Rs 7,000. With smartphones now available for as low as Rs 5,000 and going lower, I won’t be surprised if they surpass the 20 million unit sales estimate by the end of this year. Majority of users who buy these phones are not even aware of the difference between a feature phone and a smartphone. They don’t need to, considering there are no feature phones to be found any more in their budget. And this is precisely the opportunity that was non-existent a couple of years ago, which many an app developer used to complain to me about. Read on… Also Read - Square Enix announces new Guardians of the Galaxy at E3 2021: Details here
Most of these “uninitiated” users are also the ones who are curious about what more they can do with it. And this comes from personal experience with family and friends – they don’t really care about Talking Tom or Angry Birds. What they are looking for are localized apps. In most cases, their cellphone is the only means of being always connected to the Internet, it is their sole gaming console and music consumption device. Yet, there are only a handful of apps available for them. Also Read - Top phones under Rs 10,000 in June 2021: Realme C25s, Redmi 9 Prime and more
I’m in no way saying there are NO India-specific apps whatsoever – there are a few notable ones like Saavn, Mundu TV, apps for newspapers and channels from Robosoft, a phenomenal navigation app from MapmyIndia and even ultra-localized app, Localbeat. But the problem is there are just a handful of them, which are not easy to discover either. Most of the “Indian apps” in all app stores are about wallpaper/ring tone collections, rip-offs of content from popular websites and devotional content. I won’t classify any of them as “apps” as their is no interactivity – they just host passive content and follow the freemium model to make money (I doubt that they do) via ads within the app. Heck, I remember an app development “studio” approaching me to cover a “fireworks” app of theirs days preceding Diwali.
As an outsider, it seems to me that Indian app developers are satisfied simply to code stuff for global studios rather than doing something creative on their own. I call them coders, not developers. They have lost their creativity, which is essential to “develop” anything new. Rovio was just a small startup that developed Angry Birds. And they didn’t have any connection with Silicon Valley. (For the record, they are based in Helsinki.) So was OMGPOP, the makers of Draw Something, which got acquired by Zynga within weeks of the launch of their game.
It is about time developers here wake up and smell the coffee. This is a massive opportunity in front of them. If you have an India-specific app, reach out to us. If your app is up to the mark, we would be more than delighted to feature them here. You can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.