New Delhi: India’s mobile app market grew sharply last year, outpacing the US, and ranked number one in terms of Google Play downloads, highlighting the vibrancy of the country’s mobile ecosystem. Indians downloaded over 6 billion apps in 2016, up from 3.5 billion in 2015. That 71% growth was significantly higher than the overall 15% growth in app downloads around the world.
The findings are part of research firm App Annie’s fourth annual Retrospective Report released on Tuesday.
“India’s phenomenal progress over the past two years is even more impressive when considering its potential for further gains. In 2016, India surpassed the US as the second largest smartphone market due in large part to a rise in domestically produced smartphones. This is only the beginning, however, as India’s smartphone penetration is still below 30% and its overall economy is poised for massive growth,” the report said.
In 2016, according to the report, China became the largest market in terms of iOS App Store revenue. And while mature markets experienced strong growth in 2016, emerging markets, including India, Indonesia, Mexico and Brazil, saw even more impressive gains.
The total time spent on apps rose significantly, especially in emerging markets, which accounted for four of the top five countries by total time spent in 2016. “In particular, India and Brazil stood out for their staggering growth in engagement. These increases stemmed from a combination of exploding user bases and increases in time spent per user (the latter of which also occurred in developed markets).”
In India, in terms of number of downloads, social networking app Facebook, instant messaging app Whatsapp (also owned by Facebook) and mobile web browser UC Browser were the three most popular. Even, in terms of usage, calculated in terms of monthly active users both Facebook and Whatsapp maintained their top two positions respectively, while Google Maps was ranked number three.
Based on revenue, video streaming app Netflix, which entered India a year ago, topped the list followed by online dating app Tinder and professional networking app Linkedin. App Annie’s revenue rankings are based on paid downloads and in-app purchases and exclude advertising.
Globally, the typical smartphone user uses 30 apps every month.
Gaming continued to be the biggest driver of downloads and revenue and one of the biggest headlines of 2016 was the phenomenal success of Pokémon GO, the latest mobile game offering from Niantic Inc., a company owned by Alphabet Inc.(formerly Google). “Despite launching in July, it remained in the top five apps for worldwide revenue in the last week of the year. And the year ended with the release of the much anticipated Super Mario Run, which became the #1 app in 148 countries,”the report said.
Video streaming apps too saw a sharp growth in revenue. India has witnessed a dramatic shift in this segment over the past 6 months. Total time spent on the top 10 video streaming apps including Hotstar and Netflix on Android phones in India increased 600% between July and December 2016 compared to the same period a year ago, the report said.
Overall, app publisher revenue grew 40% year-over-year–an acceleration over 2015’s growth rate–resulting in $35 billion across iOS and Google Play app stores. Including in-app advertising, app store revenue and third-party Android stores , publishers made over $89 billion in revenue, the report said.
“App adoption is growing rapidly in emerging markets including India and Indonesia– while mature markets are seeing apps challenge and change traditional industries including retail, entertainment and banking,” said Danielle Levitas, senior vice-president of research at App Annie in an emailed statement.