At times it can feel as though the Indian app market is downright unstoppable, but certain factors at play in this economy may put a damper on the country’s mobile ambitions.
The rise of the Indian smartphone and mobile app market is among the most outstanding examples of rapid, substantial growth in today’s global economy. The number of mobile internet users in urban areas has grown by 65% since last year, according to Apps India 2016, and revenue from paid apps alone will reach an estimated $317.6 million (USD) by the end of this year.
But rapid growth isn’t always a sure sign of profitability — a look at the structure and past behavior of the Indian market may cast some shade over these optimistic predictions of its future performance.
Will Poor Internet Hold Back Apps?
According to Tech 2, 60% of mobile internet users in India face problems with their mobile connection, and 62% of users in small to mid-sized cities experience inconsistent internet speeds while outdoors.
This will likely come back to bite the growing “long tail” of app expansion, as connectivity is in most cases a crucial component of what makes an app indispensable to the average user. We can enjoy some of them offline, but the truly groundbreaking nature of the app-smartphone symbiosis is the combination of a mobile program’s inherent capabilities with data from the web. Connectivity is what makes Uber, Facebook, and WhatsApp useful, and if the majority of Indians can’t enjoy similarly positive experiences, they’ll soon start to get turned off to apps in general.
However, there’s hope that new infrastructural projects being carried out across the subcontinent will strengthen India’s mobile network and improve connectivity. According to ZD net, Merrill Lynch expects there to be 180 million 4G subscribers in India by 2018, up from just five million in 2016. Though this is clearly speculative, it’s certain that more consistent and faster internet connections will be crucial to easing the pressure created by the inevitable, exponential increase in app-based traffic in the coming years.
Will Technology’s Limitations Zombify Apps?
Harshith Mallya of YourStory observes that Indians typically rely on cheaper phones with less processing power and storage than mobile users in Western nations. This can make it considerably more difficult for app developers to gain traction with users because of something called the “zombie effect.” This phenomenon occurs when users download the app, get bored of it, and because their phone is low on storage, delete it in order to make room for more useful apps.
This means that app developers risk having their creation uninstalled more frequently than in other countries, as users don’t have the opportunity to get bored of an app then rediscover it. Thus, the rate of abandonment for apps is much higher in India, something that will continue to hamper developers’ success and profitability.
In spite of these limitations, however, Apple CEO Tim Cook has made a point of expressing his confidence in the Indian market. In particular, sales of the iPhone in India grew by 56% in Q2, showing that Indian mobile users are keen to invest in high-powered devices like those created by Apple.
If a stronger mobile infrastructure and domestic economy will indeed allow Indian consumers to purchase and operate smartphones with greater capacity, it’s clear that the zombie effect won’t be a serious impediment for long — but will adoption be fast enough to maintain the current rate of growth? Regardless of the answer, the grand predictions we’ve been hearing are difficult to justify, but if the Indian market’s growth keeps up with that of the developer community, our worries about those zombies might eventually be laid to rest.
The Future for Indian App Developers
If all that wasn’t enough, perhaps the biggest concern for Indian developers is one of compatibility. Will Indian smartphone users of the future prefer Androids or iPhones? Luckily, OS-agnostic app development platforms like AppMakr offer an easy solution to this problem, allowing anyone to develop an app that’s compatible with both Android and iOS, and it’ll even have HTML5 functionality.
India’s volatile growth makes it a market full of surprises and opportunities. Right now, the development of the app market in this nation is the envy of the world: whether it becomes a true mobile powerhouse or just the latest tech bubble ready to burst, no one can say for sure. All Indian developers know is the key set of problems they face now and may encounter in the future — but with the right tools and a clever approach to their craft, they can help propel the Indian market higher still.
Oliver Meredith Cox
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