Indian consumers spent three times more on smartphone apps
in the past year, according to Google, which sees this as an inflection point in the country’s digital ecosystem that will allow developers
to finally monetise their apps.
“If there’s one thing that the Indian internet ecosystem has been challenged with, it is monetisation. But we believe that the time has come where we’re beginning to see a change in monetisation in India,” said Rajan Anandan, managing director, Google India.
Alongside seeing app downloads on its Play Store exceed one billion recently, the company said it saw a 300 per cent growth in customer app spends. This included upfront payments for buying apps, in-app purchases and the money that people paid for subscribing to services.
At its first App Excellence Summit held in Bengaluru on Tuesday, Google said it was gearing up for this change by building a robust payment
system on its Play Store. Google now accepts payments through credit/debit cards, direct carrier billing and even payments through popular digital wallets.
The company said it was also constantly looking at adding newer payment
methods which are being widely adopted by users, when asked if the Unified Payment
Interface (UPI) would soon make a debut on the Play Store.
While Anandan said a majority of the Indian smartphone apps
today only solve problems for the richest 100 million citizens of the country, he urged developers
for the next 300 million users to start running experiments on different ways to monetise the services they offer to users. “In a country like India where monetisation has been difficult, it is very important to start running experiments, trying to figure out how to monetise apps.
The challenge is that when you switch on trying to monetise your app, it’s not going to happen easily. So the sooner you start experimenting, the better.”
Google also noted that the base of paying customers on its Play Store grew by 30 per cent. More interestingly, the company noted that the number of subscribers (customers paying a recurring fee to use a service) grew by a factor of two in the past year.
One of the driving factors for this change is the massive shift seen in India’s internet ecosystem over the past year, where data rates have fallen as low as Rs 15 a GB through providers such as Jio. Not only has this brought more users online, it has also caused a massive spike in internet usage.
“What’s happened in the past 10 months is truly incredible and has not been seen in the history of the internet. We’ve (India) literally gone from having a large number of users spending very little time on the internet to having a large number of users spending a lot of time on the internet,” Anandan said.