04:22 pm - Wednesday 22 November 2017

“App”ing the UnApped!

By Zubin Jimmy Dubash, Chief Strategy Officer, Onward Mobility - Wed Aug 22, 4:35 pm

While the Mobile Apps Market in India is reportedly booming, a closer look reveals that there is need for radical models to innovate and help "App the UnApped"

I have often wondered why 3G was so over-hyped before its launch in India, promising to provide a truly 3G “experience” of Gaming, Googling and Gizmos.

The promise of the 3G’s may have been kept, but only to the extent of the acronym, conveniently settling to Guzzling GB’s Galore!

With close to a billion mobile users in India, of which only 250 million have mobile-internet enabled phones, have you ever understood why the industry is so excited to have reached the 100+ million Internet subscibers mark?  Of these 70+ million are mobile internet customers (GPRS, EDGE, & 3G) and ironically India is touted to be among the key “Mobile First” markets….meaning a market where users will use a Mobile device as their first device to connect to the Internet.

An interesting and rather startling piece of data I picked up recently – Blackberry has 12 million blackberry phones in India, and only 3 million have the entry level data plans(BBM plan). Wonder what the balance 9 million users are doing with their BlackBerry’s? What this goes to show is that customers are not aware of what data can do for them.

So, what’s the key reason for this anomaly…Let’s ask ourselves a few pertinent questions. Why would users buy data for nothing? The first use of buying a Rolex is “Reading the Time”, right? Isn’t the smart phone, supposed to do something smart? Data is what data can do, which unfortunately, is not known to the user. The manifestation of data lies in its use; of services or Applications that can enhance the way the user fulfils his needs…thereby leading a “smarter” mobile life.

So, as Covey puts it, “start with the end in mind”….

Apps are the key ingredient that go into making the smart phone truly “smart”. Data is the means to the end called Apps.

Analyst reports suggest that globally the App market will generate $16.5bln by Dec 2012… and forecasts a $50bln market by 2015. In India, the entire VAS industry is USD 3.1 Billion, which comprises mainly of SMS, Voice VAS, and Data Plans, and Apps (barring Games) is something that’s yet to take off.

So what IS preventing this surge of apps in India? As we segment the app market in India-

  • The Appers 1% :  Avid app users, download free apps and paid apps, are comfortable with using their credit cards online.
  • The App-Aware 11% : they know of Apps, may rarely download free apps, but find it a complex process to download, and are shy to use their credit-cards online.
  • The UnApped 88% : They have no idea of apps and their benefits.

With a 99% dormant / non-user app user base, and a supposedly growing Mobile Internet base, thanks to data plans being commoditized by the telcos, the industry surely needs some serious, disruptive and game-changing models to proliferate app awareness and usage among a larger base. And the only way to do so is to….

Speak the language of the Indian Customer.

  • DIFM:

Indians by nature are not DIY, especially for buying of a tech product like apps. If you even consider simple mobile recharge, the customer insight is “Kar Ke Do” or in other words Do It For ME (DIFM). This is typically what the Indian customer is habituated to. DIFM in the area of Apps would work perfectly for an Indian customer.


With just 17million credit cards in India in Sep 2011, and a predominantly online-shy Indian Customer, credit card as a mode of payment leaves little choice for most customers to buy apps.


Close to 500,000 apps on each of Android and iOS stores, leaves a big hole in App Discovery, segmentation, and recommendation.

Onward Mobility, a 3-year-old startup has embarked on a journey to demystify technology to the end user, by making it simple, useful and relevant. The world’s first offline App Store, selling mobile apps at thousands of retail outlets across India. Through their proprietary platform the RDAP (Retail Digital Apps Platform), Onward distributes both Free and Paid applications to end users at retail outlets, with trained human personnel. Relevant, useful, cherry-picked apps, DIFM and Cash payment, giving the customer a truly pleasant App-buying experience, with the vision of “App”ing the Un-Apped!

About Author:

The author is an eminent  authority in the area of Mobile/Digital Entertainment & VAS. Currently with Onward Mobility, as CSO, he has been instrumental in building successful VAS businesses in his prior roles at Vodafone India and Tata Docomo. He is an active writer and speaker at various forums/conferences, both in India and globally.


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