Ten Predictions for Indian Mobile App Industry 2016


By Alex Qian, Vice President, Leomaster, India and USA

Microsoft Office Lens Mobile App

Change, inevitably sweeps across the continent, with the ubiquitous adoption of the smartphone and continuous advent of mobile data network, along with craze of investment. The Indian mobile app market is showing certain trend, which is counter intuitive to a pragmatic researcher and practitioner like me.

Here are my ten Predications for the Indian Mobile App Industry for 2016

1. The beginning of Videos Era

Videos have undoubtedly becoming a preferred content format today. In US and China , videos and related products used to be the second necessity, in India, as far as downloads are concerned, it is beyond top 10. But the reality is, Indians consume videos through Vidmate, UTorrent, UC browsers where they can find link to download videos freely and get it shared with ShareIt, which is on the phones of almost everyone. Online streaming would be very small segment of people with the condition of WIFI in India. Hence we predict this the beginning of Videos Era. Once people got used to videos, it is hard for them to turn back to text or pictures again. Hence we need to take it into consideration that

  • Another large incumbent network is built upon the ShareIt,
  • Content products and related products, Videos will preferred
  • Besides we design a product for future, not for today,

Hence, currently India marks the beginning of Video Era

2. The Spring of mobile Digital advertisement

In 2014, the Digital advertisement revenue was 40 billion Rupees in India vis-à-vis 1529 billion Rupees in china, the gap is pretty large, with the lot of money following into India in 2015, the digital advertisement investment will shoot up as we have witnessed, the regular digital ads spenders being ecommerce companies, followed by the O2O players like OYO rooms or Big Baskets, Grofers, and likes of Paytm who want them to be seen everywhere.

Internet advertisement industry is a barometer of the digital economy, in china only 3 percent of that can create a 7 billion worth Nasdaq listed company. Baidu, Alibaba, or Google, Facebook, essentially, the Internet economy is built upon the Ads. It comes into a vicious cycle now, more Internet users, attract more business build their presence online, they invest more advertising dollars into the company who build content, where content attract more users. Digital advertisement landscape is changing India; I guess it will have a quantum leap, if the 5 Million India SMEs also migrate them online, that will be a epic win, though only 1% of them there now. They will be there, the early the better.

3. The End of tools App

Tools or productivity app used to be a contingency opportunity for many companies; it used to send NQ (Security) and Dew mobile (go launcher) and later Cheetah mobile (Clean master) to NASDAQ, while there are also tools app companies that have not has an IPO, struggling with no way to recover huge investment for user acquisition, all the companies whose stocks price plummeting for no hope of rejuvenation.

With the improvement of Android, and the betterment of hardware, tools apps will no longer get a significant mindshare of customers, except for those ones with strong localization usage like ShareIt, and MX players. We have seen the massive push on Tools Apps, but the retention is hardly anything.

The tools that are facing the challenge are cleaning tools, security tools, and personalization tools etc.

4. The Phase out of Launcher Apps

Launcher as a productivity or personalization app is in a serious challenge of being phased out. MIUI used to built significant user base with the poor android 2.5, when people felt the need of a third party launcher to have a intuitive UI and swift operation experience given by optimization. While today when android stands at 5.1 above and all the OEM’s effort in their own UI, 3rd party is in no way to find their value, it is a true faith that anyone to attempt to do a 3rd party UI or a 3rd Party OS per se. There are a bunch of launcher producers, Go launcher, Arrow launcher, Nova launcher, NXT launcher, Apex launcher etc. more than 100 launchers on Google play, this year we will see the diminishing phase out of launchers. These companies may need to introspect about what will be their core competence going forward?

5. The dawn of Mobile Gaming

Though there is no significant growth on gaming industry, we used to get distressed when we see hardly anyone play games in IIT, sooner we realized that IIT is not a good place to discover gamers, we went to street and colleges that are not engineering oriented, where we found real gaming fans. We also see some heavy gamers engaged in COC while sitting on street. Apart from the Octro Teen Patti, there is few localized games, I see this as the mismatch, games are the creativity and cultural product, the culture rich India is incredibly lacking in localized games, which is a obstacle for games adoption, it will take time for the society to develop a habbit of using game as an avenue of entertainment, as it happened in china with 530 million gamers, a game’s publishing company will be as significant as a Bollywood blockbuster.

The vicious cycle has not been kicked off as and when more gamers play games, more games producer will make money, where they develop more games, and more games attract more games. It is a underlying trend, though not being seen today, while as Entrepreneurs, you want to build a product for future or for now, the answer is evident

6. The Youth of Mobile Browsers

Mobile browser is on the growth path of technology life cycle in India. For the one billion first time smartphones users, they will be more relying on the browsers as a necessity of access content, the browsers’ market has seen a strong surge and consolidation, with Chrome almost occupied the upper layer of pyramid and the mid is taken by opera, which has been sold to the chinese careerist, the lower segment is firmly held by UC browsers, whose market share is already more than 60%.

7. The rise of local King

Way back in the beginning of 2014, there were few E-commerce startups in nascent stages, when you look at today, 7-8 startups have acquired funds in a week’ time, the mobile startups becomes the ground spelling waters. With two examples #Fame and Gogo planet to explain:

#Fame recently announce a 10 million investment, #Fame’s download from Oct, 2015 till Dec, 2015, has shown a 40-45% increase moths over month, and they are able to rolling in the resource like SRK to do a live show. With their bold move in BTL advertisement. # Fame shows a very promising future, more that it show the leadership in developing products with a futuristic vision, of course , the current network infrastructure may not support the wildly acceptance of such product

Gogo Planet is made a squad team from former Line India team, which is lead by Damon Soni and Rajat . it is a news screen apps with the UVP of reading news to accumulate points for talktime. The app instantly captures the three key points:

Pain point ? personalized news ( short, crispy and vernacular)

Sweet point: points for free talktime

Excite point: Accumulate points (gamification)

The apps are showing a at least 30% growth line

Most importantly, they have only less than 5 team at the beginning , it is lean and mean, in other words jugaad innovation

8. The Last Chance For Foreign App Company to Enter India

Thanks to the Great wall, China has developed local search (Baidu), local security (360 security), local IM (QQ and Wechat), those have given a significant edge over the technology and ecosystem. The technology has served as the stepping-stone towards AI, VR, Machine learning, big data, deep learning, and even the personal recommendation engine. Hence I believe there is a scope for Chinese companies to transfer those technologies into India.

But this proposition is perishable, it wont be there after 1 or 1.5 years, with more and more brain return from Silicon valley to India. The said technology gap will diminish. Hence I feel there is a last chance for a foreign company to operate in India, Line and Wechat has demonstrated my point with their demise.

9. The Confluence of News aggregation App

Apart from the News Hunt, In Shorts and TOI, now Cheetah mobile has come out with their technology-oriented news recommendation app Insta News, UC web is also developing the News app, News reading will be a fashion, the usage of internet originally is to break the information asymmetry, people needs to know more to improve their knowledge base for a quick growth, hence there will be a confluence of News app and it is going to be a fierce competition.

10. The Big times for Ecommerce

You might think the consolidation and oligopoly has happened in India, hence no chance in E-commerce, but the truth is

  1. In 2015, the India E-commerce Revenue stood at 1054 billion Rs, vis-à-vis 180,000 billion in china, hence there 180 times to capture;
  2. The innovation in E-commerce will be constant, new mobile ecommerce apps like Wish and 5 miles have shined in Amazon dominated US, the total download of Wish’s App has surpassed the same for Amazon in US
  3. For E-commerce, people doesn’t buy a simple product, they buy a solution to problem, they shop a care for their parent, they buy a appreciation for friends, hence the logistics matters most, think it to be part of the ecosystem, there way beyond opportunities

In my humble view of India in 2016, as it says, all China’s money goes into mobile Internet investment; while the money from all over the world has poured into India, it is indeed a big time. There are more similarity between China and India. I used to have an argumentative topic “ the Chinese way of internet development – User focus” and “the US way of internet development – Investor focus” , I guess India is suited to go the Chinese way.

With the technology transfer, funds infusion, assistance from monetization and support on user acquisition from the Chinese counter parts, hope the collaboration within ChIndia will be gaining momentum. That is my dream and vision as the only chinese IIT student in history, as a seasoned player, who made Mobogenie the well known app store, who designed the first casual game center for Xiaomi and launched the geek brand phone Q-terra , which is bestowed “10 best smartphone” by Economics Times. And now being a partner of Leomaster with the vision of Link Everything Online. I will continue with my deep conviction of Chindia’ growth and prosperity. I mean it and I do it.

[Editorial Notes: The article might have grammatical errors as the author is not too well versed with English language ]

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