Why is India lagging behind in app adoption?

Despite soaring popularity of the internet and double-digit growth in the Indian smartphone market, the rate of app adoption in Indiain quite low, says EbrahimPopat, Country Manager, 9Apps.
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While advanced economies slowly inch toward 100 per cent connectivity, India adds the highest number of Internet users per year vs.any other country in the world. The number of mobile internet users in India is expected to reach 371 million by next month, according to the latest data by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and IMRB International. The growth in user base in rural India has gone up by 93 per cent from December 2014, to reach 87 million in December 2015.

What’s astounding is that mobile internet users are likely to constitute between 70 to 80 per cent of the total online population by 2018, according to a research by Newzoo and OneSky. India’s mobile internet generation is young and vibrant with 7 in 10 app users under the age of 25, and men dominating the market landscape (according to data released by UCWeb, a business of Alibabamobile business group).

Yet, despite soaring popularity of the internet and double-digit growth in the Indian smartphone market, multiple factors threaten the rate of app adoption in India.

Our own survey shows that Indian users install no more than 32 apps on an average, much lower than the world average of 42. The same story repeats in case of mobile games. Most Indian install 7 games on an average while globally this figure scales upto 9. About 22 per centIndians install fewer than 3 games while only 18 per cent install 10 mobile games or more.

With increased affordability and consumption power, more and more Indians are now investing in smartphones. Yet, the top 10 most popular smartphones cost less than 10,000 rupees. Our data shows that over 55per cent of users are using a smartphone less than Rs 10,000 and over 40 per cent of theusers still access internet on screen resolutions less than 480*854.

Budget phones come with smaller screens and less powerful hardware. Despite being value for money, they undermine the basic web experience due to limited features and capabilities. Power drain and limited capacity on these low-end smartphones have emerged as the biggest concerns, hindering increased app usage.

Frail network infrastructure across the length and breadth of the country also remains a big deterrent.According to our data, almost 60per centmobile users in India continue to download apps via 2G network and almost one third of users prefer offline playback versus online streaming amidst sporadic connection.

Only a small portion of users enjoy 4G connections when downloading apps. Weak network connectivity undermines a users’ willingness to try out new apps, and hinders growth of the Indian app market. A majority of Indian users are not willing to download games larger than 20 MB since they have access to only 2G networks. Additionally, 10 per cent of users will not download anything from an app store under 2G network.

Despite all challenges, India has the potential to emerge as the next big playground for apps – both for developers and consumers. But the government must work in tandem with IT players to remove obstacles and foster the digital ecosphere. 

Authored By: EbrahimPopat, Country Manager, 9Apps

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