App monetisation remains a challenge

MUMBAI: App monetisation remains a challenge in India, experts at Ficci Frames 2013 said here today, while outlining factors that could trigger growth in the sector.

An important change is the explosion of connected devices which could transform India from being the largest consumer market for apps to also one of the largest revenue generators.

“What will help the app market is the fact that phones are getting cheaper and the technology is getting better. Mobile will be a game changer from a data perspective,” said DisneyUTV MD Digital Vishal Gondal.

With advertising being the main business model, monestisation is a challenge. There is also the issue of operators taking away 70 per cent of revenue. "Vodafone changed this by taking only 30 per cent and giving the rest to the app developer," Gondal stated.

Oovoo.com CEO Jay Alan Samit feels that voice calls will go the way of the fax machine and become extinct. "People today prefer sending text messages. If it is somebody they love and care about, then they will use video," he said.

Samit also noted that apps are viral and can come from anywhere. Angry Birds, for instance, comes from Finland. "Also celebrities will use apps if they connect people. This was seen during the Oscar awards where stars like Hugh Jackman used apps to reach out to fans," he averred.

India has a base of 2.5 million app developers. "This gives us strength. Our plan is to ensure that an app is present regardless of whether a user has a smartphone or a feature phone," said Nokia India marketing director Viral Oza.

But what are the challenges the app market faces in India? The absence of a venture funding system for apps is surely one major deterrent. The other challenge is that innovations in the user interface are not happening outside of the US, Samit said.

The fact is that many users discard an app after using them just once. Oza touched on the importance of app quality. Nokia, for instance, has a filtering system before an app is put on the Nokia Store. "About 50 per cent of apps downloaded in India are from a Nokia store. This shows that apps have quality as well as stickiness,” he said.

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