4.8 billion downloads in just 3 months, India tops in app instals

BENGALURU: Indians made about 4.8 billion downloads of applications on their mobile phones in the first three months of this year, helped by growth in smartphone ownership and plummeting data prices, according to data published by market intelligence firm Sensor Tower.

India was the top country in terms of new instals, followed by the US at 3 billion downloads. The top 10 most downloaded applications were TikTok, WhatsApp, Like, Hotstar, Facebook, Messenger, SHAREit, Helo, MX Player and UC Browser — showing that the Indian app ecosystem is dominated by American and Chinese Internet companies.

MXPlayer was the only Indian company on that list. MXPlayer is owned by Times Internet, a digital arm of the Times Group, which publishes The Economic Times.

“The growth in app instals we’re tracking in India is closely tied to the growth in new smartphone owners there, particularly Android users,” said Randy Nelson, head of mobile insights at Sensor Tower. “Since the growth is closely tied to new smartphone users — that will be the largest factor in its stability.”

Nelson said, based on research other than Sensor Tower’s, “I have seen compounded annual growth rate of 15% posited through 2022.”

WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger are all part of Facebook’s family of applications. TikTok and Helo are owned by China’s ByteDance, while Like is owned by China’s Bigo Technology. Alibaba runs UC Browser and SHAREit was founded in Beijing by Michael Qiu. Hotstar is owned by The Walt Disney Co. Nelson said app downloads have been growing steadily in India over the past five years, with a sharp increase seen mid- to late-2016, pointing to a period of intense price wars among telecom companies after the launch of Reliance Jio’s mobile services .

“Number of downloads is a continuation on the trend of more accessible data pricing, which has grown the demand for online entertainment amongst Indians,” said Kieley Taylor, managing partner, global head of social at GroupM.

“The growing mobile connectedness of India has only bolstered the desire of firms to bring solutions to the country and increased their ability to scale,” Taylor said. An Indian internet company could still play a key role given its richer understanding of cultural mores and traditions but needs to do it quickly, she said, as people — once they are on a super app platform — seldom move to another platform.

“There is a huge and vibrant potential market for online video streaming in our country with over 400 million smartphones that is growing at more than 50% each year,” said Karan Bedi, CEO at MX Player. “We will continue to consistently invest in building a bigger premium original content library.”

“ It’s an opportunity to empower existing and 200-400 million firsttime Indian internet users to use our platforms for creative expression,” ByteDance said in an email .

“User orientation and localisation are the keys to our continuous growth ,” UC Browser said. Facebook, Alibaba and Hotstar did not reply to queries. Bigo Technology’s Like declined to comment.