India is a nation that loves its technology, and in no way is this more evident than the adoption of smartphone usage across the nation. Young and old, rich and poor, it’s no secret that there are many things that divide Indians. However, it can also be said that the online and mobile age is something that brings them together in a way that has not been seen since the cricket world cup win in 2011.
Of course, today’s smartphones are less about making calls and more about using apps. Data from market researchers at Sensor Tower
indicates that in the first quarter of 2019, India’s smartphone users downloaded an incredible 4.5 billion apps. That’s more apps than any other country, well ahead of the second placed USA which recorded three billion downloads in the same period.
It’s a remarkable statistic, and one that serves as a reality check for those who still perceive India as a country lagging behind the west in technological development terms. Here, we take a look at exactly what apps are most popular among Indian smartphone users.
Social media in general has become a truly global phenomenon and around a third of the world’s population has a Facebook account. It’s no surprise, then, that this is the single most popular app for download in India. The platform has faced its fair share of difficulties and controversy over the past year or so, but these have not had any significant impact on its domination of the social media world.
You might expect the next most downloaded social media platform in India to be Twitter, but you would be wrong. It is actually Instagram, which is, of course, owned by Facebook.This shows just how much of a stranglehold Mark Zuckerberg’s organisation has on the social media market.
Having said that, he does not have the market entirely to himself. Twitter is growing in popularity with every passing month, especially since world figures like Donald Trump
started to appear. LinkedIn is also now seen as an essential social networking tool for business applications.
Gaming has possibly evolved more than any other area in the world of tech. Back in the 1990s, gaming was for kids and perhaps a few adults who were seen as geeks or eccentrics. Today, the gaming industry is believed to generate more revenue than movies and music combined. The smartphone age has played a major part in that and as an overall category, games represent by far the largest proportion of downloaded apps.
Today’s games cover a multitude of genres, so there is no single app that dominates the rest in the way that Facebook does for social media. But one area that stands out surrounds the Indian online casino platforms
that are directly aimed at the new generation of adult gamers. Casinos have the archetypal games for adults, so their popularity is unsurprising. Online versions offer all the games you might expect to play in a land-based casino, such as blackjack, roulette and, of course, dozens or even hundreds of slot games. The real advantage they hold, though, is that as they have far lower overheads, they can offer a lower house edge, and therefore a better chance of winning, that their brick and mortar equivalents.
The other subgenre within the gaming category that has started to spike in popularity over the course of 2019 is eSport. It already has huge popularity among both players and spectators, but it is only in the past year that its transition to mobile platforms has really started to take off. Suddenly, mobile eSport games like Vainglory, Honor of Kings and Clash Royale are being spoken of in the same terms as DOTA 2 and League of Legends.
It’s sometimes easy to forget that the main purpose of a phone is for communication.Despite all these other applications, that philosophy still holds true, but we tend to do so using apps instead of making phone calls or sending SMS messages these days.
Here, we have another dominant app. WhatsApp is second only to Facebook in terms of downloads. The reason for its popularity is clear. It allows you to do everything you can do with a phone in terms of making voice and text calls, but as long as you have an internet connection, it doesn’t cost a thing. Add document transfer and picture sharing to the mix and you can understand why it is so popular, and not just in India.
It’s one area in which the Facebook empire has been pushed out of first place. Having said that, the Facebook Messenger app still features in the top ten of all apps downloaded in India and is the second most popular communication app after WhatsApp.
2019 is no time to be in the TV broadcasting business. Not only is gaming eroding the sector’s market share, but also, when we do choose to watch a movie or TV show, we are increasingly likely to stream it online instead of watching over traditional terrestrial, cable or satellite broadcasts. Mobile streaming has made it possible to keep up with news, entertainment and sport streams any time and any place. Streaming apps are developing at an extremely rapid rate, and this will continue as we move firmly into the 5G age.
Two streaming apps stand out and make it into India’s overall top ten for downloads. Hotstar
was launched by star TV as a pre-emptive strike when they saw the direction technology was taking back in 2015. It’s a brand that is familiar across India, and it covers the same categories as the TV network, offering sport, entertainment, news, movies, drama serials and so on. It works seamlessly with Star’s conventional offerings by providing a catch up service for shows after broadcast.
It’s joined in the top ten by Jio, which has approached the equation from the opposite direction. Jio started out as a mobile operator, and has gradually broadened its scope into providing content. In the first quarter of 2019, it was India’s ninth most downloaded app, just one place behind Hotstar.