Home >Technology >Apps >Telecom OTT apps create $98 billion consumer surplus: report
According to App Annie, an app on market data and insights, almost 6.5 billion apps were downloaded in India in 2016. Photo: Bloomberg
According to App Annie, an app on market data and insights, almost 6.5 billion apps were downloaded in India in 2016. Photo: Bloomberg

Telecom OTT apps create $98 billion consumer surplus: report

Rich Interaction Applications (RIAs) can bridge the digital divide, be a critical tool to drive the Digital India Programme, says a joint study by Broadband India Forum and WIK

New Delhi: Over-the-top (OTT) telecom applications like WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Snapchat, Skype and iMessage contributed to consumer benefits amounting to $98 billion—around 4.3% of India’s GDP—in 2016, said a report by WIK, a Germany-based research and advisory institute for communication services, and Broadband India Forum (BIF), a policy forum working towards the proliferation of broadband services in the country.

India’s GDP in 2016 was $2.26 trillion.

The study also covered India-based messaging apps such as Hike, JioChat, Lookup, Flock and Nimbuzz, which have become an increasingly popular means of personal and business interaction.

The report, titled ‘The Economic and Societal Value of Rich Interaction Applications (RIAs) in India,’ establishes that these apps play a disproportionately important role in India when compared to other Asia-Pacific (APAC) countries.

“The regulatory ecosystem in India is evolving and is focused on the ease of doing business and ease of facilitating innovation. Considering the significant impact of apps ecosystem on the country’s economy, a constant dialogue between policy makers and the industry stakeholders will be critical to unlock the true potential of the internet and app ecosystem in India," said TV Ramachandran, president of BIF.

The study highlights significant social benefits created by RIA usage. Both specialized and general purpose RIAs can play an important role in education and knowledge transfer when direct face-to-face interaction is not possible.

“Our own representative survey of internet subscribers in India further confirms that RIA users typically utilize at least five out of six RIA functions. The six core functions of RIAs analyzed in our survey are: ordinary calling, video calling, texting, sending pictures, sending videos, and group chats," the report said.

Overall, India’s app economy is considered one of the largest in the world.

According to App Annie, an app on market data and insights, almost 6.5 billion apps were downloaded in India in 2016. This number is expected to rise to nearly 23 billion in 2021, growing annually by almost 28%. Simultaneously, consumer spending on apps is going to increase. App store spending amounted to almost $100 million in 2016. In 2021 the amount will be $2.1 billion.

RIAs can bridge the digital divide by offering new options to individuals who otherwise have limited access to telecommunications services and little knowledge about more complex computers. Indeed, if used well, RIAs could be a critical tool to drive the Digital India Programme, added the report.

Internet adoption in India has expanded rapidly over the last few years, growing from 21.37% (267.39 million people) at the end of December 2014 to 32.86% (422.19 million people) at the end of March 2017, registering a quarterly growth rate of 6.54%, the report said, citing figures from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

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