With 3.5 million downloads, ixigo's strategy to unbundle apps is working
ixigo has six apps on Android with 3.5 million app downloads across them. Could they have done better with a single app? ixigo Founder Aloke Bajpai says, 'No'.
Launched in 2007, ixigo is a travel planning and search website that has had a very interesting growth story till now. ixigo gets more than four million traffic on the web per month out of which more than 70% is on mobile. ixigo has seen a 2x growth in their app numbers in the last six months and aims to achieve 20 million monthly users by the end of 2015, 70% from mobile. Early in 2013, ixigo decided to go big on mobile and took the unbundling path.
What is unbundling?
Instead of having a single app, ixigo has six apps on Android with a different use case for each. They have one main 'brand app' supported by other need specific apps like the buses app, train app, and in-destination apps, etc.
- Users associate an app with a specific use case. It makes a direct connection and people are more likely to download the app and stick to it. For instance, ixigo has an app for booking Volvo buses which competes with redBus. It would be difficult for ixigo to highlight bus booking inside their brand app and hence unbundling (note that ixigo is not an OTA).
- Distribution becomes easier. At ixigo, each app has a different owner and a small team to drive it. This helps in getting more focus for each app and there is a separate drive which propels each app. The target market is also specific.
- Experimenting is easier because if one feels that a feature needs to be pushed out, one can make a separate app and promote it to the users. If it is something the users want, there will be adoption and if not, the app can be discontinued.
- For an app to succeed on the app store, it is critical to have the snapshots and keywords in place. ixigo keeps looking for these and ensures they've covered the points in their title, and description. For instance, the Ixigo bus app has 'volvo' occurring in the title.
- To know if a particular app is working, make one intensive push and get the downloads. Check out the peak usage. If the growth doesn't come down too much, it means the users need the app.
- Go where the market is. For instance, in India, the next billion people using smartphones will be from Tier II and III cities and hence ixigo is building their apps keeping this in mind.
Globally as well, many big players like Facebook and Foursquare, etc have taken the unbundling way. Most recently, Facebook launched its groups app to promote micro sharing. Even the operating systems are taking this into account and iOS has included in its latest update. Android Lollipop will also have an update which will allow users to download a bundle of apps together, says Aloke.
SAIF Partners bought 56.7% in ixigo.com in 2011 while online travel booking firm MakeMyTrip India Pvt. Ltd picked up 19.9%. ixigo is looking to raise a round of $25 million to fuel its next phase of growth and is very bullish about mobile.
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