Mobango crosses 1 million daily app downloads – are apps inevitable?

Free app platform Mobango has crossed one million daily downloads, across Android, Java and Symbian phones, with 25 per cent of those downloads taking place in India. But does this mean that building an app is a necessity for brands to reach out to consumers effectively?

e4m by Gopal Sathe
Updated: Jun 6, 2011 8:42 AM
Mobango crosses 1 million daily app downloads – are apps inevitable?

Mobango is a mobile app platform that allows users across a wide spectrum of devices to download apps for free, and charges brands for distributing these apps, thus resolving the discovery problem which faces most app makers. Recently, the platform has crossed one million daily downloads and 25 per cent of this is happening in India, every day. 

Badri Sanjeevi, COO, Mobango, also pointed out that the kind of traffic that a mobile app store like Mobango gets is very different from the traffic which operator stores get. He said, “Initially we used to run the application store for Hutch, before it became Vodafone, and we also set the store up for Idea and BSNL. What we see is that the quality of traffic is very different at Mobango, compared to that experience. We see a lot of high end featurephones and smartphones, compared to the more basic users on the operator store, because the people who come are usually a lot more comfortable with the device. So we see a lot of the latest Androids and a lot of Galaxy Tabs as well. What this means is that a branded app on Mobango will reach a particular audience.”

He added, “For brands, this drives distribution, and we only charge the brands per download, so we offer good RoI. Also, since the users come to our store looking for apps, we are able to provide far better conversion rates than an ad network can. For a brand, after they’ve made an app, they need to get their consumers to see it as well, otherwise it is not useful. By our estimate, there are almost two million apps being downloaded every day in India, and the majority comes from free app stores like us. While there is also a premium app market of around Rs 300 crore, that’s largely the domain of the telcos, and it’s been the fastest growing revenue source for the operators. Today though, the free space is growing a lot faster, and based on what we see around the world, will overtake it soon.”

Are apps right for India?

However, not everyone is in agreement with Sanjeevi’s views on the continuing growth of apps. Romit Mitra, Head Marketing, India, 2ergo said, “We are a mobile app company, but we don’t believe that mobile apps are right for India. That sounds like a strange thing to say, but we’ve been making apps for the last three years now and have worked with the Guardian, Fox, ABC, Cricinfo and the Times of India, and what we’re seeing today is that in India, there’s a hype built on apps that the numbers don’t actually support.”

He added, “You have to create a fresh app for Android, another for iOS, and another for Symbian, one for Java and one for Blackberry, in order to reach the full audience. Unfortunately, these don’t translate automatically, so you have to undergo a lot of expenses in making your app work across all platforms. Today, the mobile market is so fragmented that targeting just one section will have access to less than ten per cent of the total audience. At the same time, major OS updates are also happening fairly quickly, and forward compatibility is proving to be an issue as well.”

Because of these issues, Mitra believes that Indian publishers are targeting the international market when they release apps, and not just Indian users. He said, “It’s very similar to the PC software scene in the mid 90s. Standards of browsers were being converged, and once that happened and the devices and connections became powerful enough, desktop applications were on the way out. If you can not do something on a web browser, then you create an app. Mobile browsers can do a lot of things already.”

He added, “In order of reach and priority, you should first start with SMS, and then move to WAP, and then to app. SMS is still big, and in terms of revenues that it can get it, on everything other than functionality, SMS allows far more.”

Sunil Kamath, Director, Sales India and South Asia, Opera, is of the view that apps and browser based development can complement each other, and marketers should not view it as an either/or scenario.

He said, “There is a certain hunger for apps, and while we believe that over time most apps will move to the mobile web as browsers and connections become more robust, there are certain advantages to having the program run locally, and so just like with the PC, certain programs will remain on the handset. Games are one such example, and are also a great area for marketers, so from a brand perspective, apps are not going away anytime soon.”

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