The rise of the planet of the apps
Tech effect: Smartphone applications are putting convenience and connectivity into the consumer’s palm, creating a sense of power and individualism she would not want to trade.
At a recent party, 40-something insurance manager Preeti Sinha exclaimed at another attendee, "What? You're not on WhatsApp? Why not? It's a great way to stay in touch!"
WhatsApp, WeChat, Facebook, Google… today's smartphone users have all these apps and many more on their screens.
"App is the new calling card," said Siddhartha Roy, COO, Hungama Digital Media Entertainment. "The growing use of smartphones - 125-130 million this year - in India, will see the app environment expand."
"For consumers, especially youth, apps are creating huge exposure to the various facets of their own lives," said Rajiv Dingra, 29, founder and CEO of digital media agency WAT Consult.
Atul Hegde, CEO, Ignitee Digital Services, said, "The app story is not a fad but here to stay. The mobile is your first point of call and apps are riding that."
There are apps for communication, gaming, entertainment, fitness, productivity, business, besides utility apps. "The app environment is making us more responsive, more quickly," Dingra said.
Nielsen Informate's research reveals that app choices are governed by utility and popularity.
"Apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Candy Crush dominate their categories because they provide repeated utility. Popular apps often reach critical mass by word of mouth and then create a snowball effect. This is why the top 20% apps account for 70% of the time spent," said Prashant Singh, MD, Nielsen India.
Chat - driven by WhatsApp - is the most popular app category. "The average chat user consumes 100 MB of data on chat alone. Games - almost all free - account for one out of every two apps installed and typically have retention of two months - Candy Crush has lasted longer - compared to utility apps such as news, chat or social networking that retain 50%-plus users for over six months," Singh said.
Nielsen sees apps replacing traditional mobile browsing. "The popularity, in reach, for shopping apps has doubled from 13% to 26 % from January to June 2014, whereas shopping sites grew from 27% to 31%. The reach for the Facebook app is 54% and the website, 46%," Singh said.
Nielsen found that 15-24-year-olds spend the most time on apps, as do users of expensive -over ₹25,000 - smartphones. Males spend more time exploring app stores, browsing, gaming and banking; females spend 45% more time on chat apps. Tier I and II towns' consumers are as app-hungry but do more browsing and media viewing.
"There will be an app for everything, enhancing one's sense of individualism and power, all in one's palm. The kick of personal space, a window to the world… no one will trade this off for anything," Dingra concluded.
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