The 10 interesting things happening in India’s mobile app universe

The 10 interesting things happening in India’s mobile app universe

Friday January 19, 2018,

5 min Read

Social media and video-streaming apps are huge in India. Indians download a lot, but pay very little; Netflix leads consumer spending on apps.

India is now the world’s second largest app market, trailing only China. It has surpassed the US, both in terms of internet users, and app downloads. Explosive growth in India and other emerging markets in Southeast Asia is said to be propelling the global app economy.

App analytics provider App Annie, in a recent report, said that India now accounts for nearly 58 billion downloads of the world’s 175 billion.


Here are 10 fascinating insights about the Indian app market and Indians’ app behaviour that YourStory mined from the report.

Three hours spent on apps daily

Indians on an average spend about three hours — 170 minutes to be precise — per day on apps. This is in line with the global average, but ahead of some mature internet markets like the US, the UK, France, and Germany.

Apps ahead of mobile browsing

In India, app engagement is head and shoulders above mobile browsers. As much as 88 percent of the time spent on mobile was on apps; 12 percent was on mobile browsers. This is in sync with worldwide user behaviour.

App Annie says in mobile-first markets like India, “Successful businesses are seeing more than half of their sales come through mobile channels, and app users specifically convert at 3X the rate of mobile web users.”

Event-led spikes in Netflix consumption

India has had a “strange” relationship with Netflix so far. While the user base is distinctly small, given Netflix is a premium/paid service, those who consume are loyal and highly engaged.

So much so that daily active users (DAUs) on Netflix rose 10 percent in India after the launch of Stranger Things 2 on October 27. That is the third-highest spike Netflix recorded globally. Only UK with 25 percent, and the US with 20 percent, were ahead.

Homegrown video-streaming services dominate

Strangely enough, Netflix doesn’t even feature among the top five video-streaming services in India. YouTube leads — as it does in all top markets barring China — and is succeeded by homegrown services like Hotstar, JioTV, JioCinema, and Voot.

App Annie says that in many markets, “traditional TV providers” are racing ahead of “online specialists”. Also, domestic video services “are dominating the charts” across countries. “Hotstar is now one of the most used video-streaming apps in the world, driven almost entirely by its vast Indian audience,” it revealed.

Jio effect: soaring video consumption

The impact of Reliance Jio’s dirt-cheap 4G data offering was perhaps most felt on online video. Consumption soared 6X in the first half of 2017 following Jio’s rollout in September 2016. India was consuming 200 billion MB of video content before Jio. By April 2017, that skyrocketed to 650 billion MB. Most of this consumption was on mobile data as opposed to WiFi networks.

Maximum hours spent on WhatsApp

Social apps are a rage in India. Over 71 billion hours were spent on top five social apps on Android. The time spent by Indians on social apps has grown 55 percent — the highest in the world — in two years. No surprises then that the two of the world’s biggest social apps, Facebook and WhatsApp, have their largest user bases in India. WhatsApp accounted for more than 50 percent of the overall hours spent on apps by Indians. Facebook and Facebook Messenger followed.


Facebook most downloaded app

Facebook and WhatsApp dominate not only monthly active users (MAUs), but also downloads. Alibaba’s UC Browser is the third most downloaded app in India. A separate report by StatCounter had pegged UC Browser’s user base in India at 100 million. It occupies more than 50 percent of the mobile browser market, ahead of even Google Chrome, which is the global leader. Hotstar, meanwhile, is the fifth most downloaded app.

Netflix leads consumer spends

While Hotstar may be ahead in terms of downloads and MAUs, it is Netflix on which Indians are spending the most. Netflix leads a bunch of varied apps on which consumer spending is high. It is followed by Tinder, BIGO Live, Google Drive, Sing Karaoke!, Hotstar, LinkedIn, Udemy, Gaana, and Saavn.

While the Netflix user base is smaller, its steep pricing pushes up the overall consumer spend. Sample this - the most basic Netflix subscription comes for Rs 500 per month and goes up to Rs 850 per month. Hotstar, on the other hand, is available at Rs 199 per month. And unlike Netflix, it is a part-paid, part-free service, thus attracting several non-subscribing users too.

Candy Crush not the most popular game

In gaming, which as an app category isn’t as popular in India as social or entertainment, Clash of Clans recorded the highest MAUs. Candy Crush Saga and Doodle Army 2: Mini Militia followed.

High on downloads, low on revenues

India continued to lead the world in Google Play downloads for the second consecutive year. Brazil, US, Indonesia, and Russia completed the top five. In app revenues, however, India didn’t feature even in the top 10, implying free apps rule the roost in this price-sensitive market.