If current growth figures and industry estimates are anything to go by, almost every Indian will own a mobile phone by the year 2022, and more than half of them will use a smartphone by 2025 – not just in metro cities, but also in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. The mobile phone is becoming the primary screen for multiple purposes – gaming, news, entertainment, shopping, navigation, banking – for an increasing number of users.
Indians, on an average, use as many as 24 apps on their phones daily , far higher than the global average. Social media apps are the most popular category, followed by mobile gaming, OTT entertainment, e-commerce, wearable tech, and on-demand apps. India’s app economy is maturing fast and should be on the radar for every app developer and content creator. It is essential for them to gauge the depths and dynamics of consumers and tap into them.
Millennials comprise a large percentage of India’s consumer base. At a strength of 440 million, they are the largest demographic group in the country. A recent study suggested that millennials are the chief wage-earners in India, with a 47% share in the working age population. Like elsewhere in the world, they are digitally connected individuals, who are driving the growth of many consumer-facing business segments, including mobile technologies and apps. And they are better placed than anyone else to understand the needs, expectations and behaviors of their fellow millennial consumers.
The current and future batches of content creators and app developers would do well to make a note of some observed and foreseeable trends, for these could drive the evolution of mobile technology and content in the years ahead.
- Gaming apps are growing strongly, especially in non-urban markets.
Presently, there are more than 250 million mobile gamers in India – a majority of who are from non-metro areas – and the number is expected to exceed 368 million by 2022. More than half the audience for gaming apps is above the age of 24 years. It has also been observed that gaming is highly popular amongst women; they engage more with gaming apps than any other app category.
- With the success of OTT apps, smartphone is now the preferred screen for video-viewing.
The number of people who consume video content on their smartphone is expected to grow from 103.5 million in the year 2018 to 225 million in 2022. Expectedly, it’s the millennials and the centennials who are driving this growth. A recent survey suggested that 89 percent of the total number of over-the-top (OTT) video content platform users in India are under 35 years of age.
- Smartphones will drive the continued growth of e-commerce.
India’s e-commerce market is growing at an annual rate of 51 percent, the fastest in the world. It is estimated that by the year 2021, almost two-thirds of India’s population will be internet users and one in every three purchases will be made using a mobile phone. Rural consumers will use the mobile phone as much as, or even more than, their urban counterparts to make purchases.
- The next wave of mobile internet users will come from Tier-2 and Tier-3 markets, with great demand for regional language interfaces and content.
The next 100-200 million users who come online will be very different from current users. Most of them will from smaller cities and towns and from across socio-economic strata – consumers who are slowly realizing that a smartphone can enable them to as good as carry the world in their pocket, but who might not be well-versed enough in English to make the most of the opportunities that mobile technologies offer. Over the next five years, nine out of every ten new internet users in India are likely to prefer regional languages to access the Internet. It only makes sense to have local language support and the Indic keyboard in smartphones to serve this audience.
- Mobile phones will increasingly meld into the world of IoT.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is finding application in a large and increasing number of industrial and home applications. The smart cities, the smart industries and the smart lifestyles that are being envisioned for the future will be based, to large extent on IoT. We are more likely to access IoT apps on the smartphone than any other device, for the sheer convenience it affords. IoT on smartphones will be an area of endless possibilities for technology providers and app developers.
- Machine Learning, AI, Cloud, and chatbots will be closely integrated with mobile app development.
Used together, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) enable an extremely wide range of services and device functions such as data analysis, language and voice translation, geolocation, traffic prediction, online product recommendations, fraud detection, and many more.
Cloud integration in mobile apps enables low-cost hosting, quick loading, and improved business operations. It also solves many security-related concerns.
Chatbots are becoming integral to mobile app experiences. By seamlessly working with augmented reality and virtual reality, chatbots are helping businesses and brands improve customer relationships. Chatbots will continue to gain relevance among banks, online stores, travel portals, and government institutes for providing great customer service.
- Apps are helping people access necessary basic services and facilities
Governments and public services are introducing apps that enable the public to access region-specific or essential services on their phone. Almost every state, for instance, has its own electricity bill payment app. Education apps are gaining in popularity, with an increasing number of people using them for upskilling. Apps that enable users to get small loans without approaching banks, or apps that help them get instant loan approvals are also doing very well. There are large number of underserved or unbanked people in India; apps such as the above help in bringing them into the economic fold.
In a country as geographically and culturally diverse as ours, people have widely varying needs and expectations. It’s important to keep the demographics and the psychographics of the intended audience in mind when designing apps for them. Apps targeted at India’s millennials, for instance, must satisfy their need to be heard, for theirs is a generation that’s acutely sensitive to social changes, influences, and moods. They are also the fountain of new ideas and paradigms that will shape the future. Most of them are driven by, or seek, a sense of purpose in their life. Apps or content that aid them in this journey of self-discovery and fulfilment become an integral part of their life. App developers and content creators must find ways to this possible in a manner that’s informative and entertaining. The challenges of Indian society and industry are as indigenous as its people, and Digital India offers ample opportunities to its millennials to address these with indigenous content and apps that are as personalized as the smartphone you own and the language you speak!The author is Cofounder & CEO at Indus OS.