Planet Of The Apps

How to maximize potential returns and intrinsic value using the power of apps – and how to ensure that you know what the logo of SnapChat looks like (that too)

How to maximize potential returns and intrinsic value using the power of apps – and how to ensure that you know what the logo of SnapChat looks like (that too)

The term “app” has become a ‘buzzword’, and that’s a no-brainer. A handful of years back, the word “app” was even listed as the “Word of the Year” by the American Dialect Society, marking its ubiquity to the world of technology. Technology columnist David Pogue rightly quoted, “Newer smartphones could be nicknamed “app phones” to distinguish them from earlier less-sophisticated smartphones.”

Usage of apps has become increasingly prevalent across mobile phone users. Market research firm Gartner predicted that 102 billion apps were downloaded in 2013 (91% of them free), generating $26 billion business in the US, an increase of 44.4% on 2012’s US$18 billion. And how did the tide move since then? Google Play and Apple stores alone generated $5 billion of sales in quarter 2 of 2015.

Not many would remember now that the genesis of Google Play was from an online marketplace known as the Android Market, which opened in October 2008 and spread like a wildfire in the virtual space. Google Play in reality launched on March 6, 2012, with the merger of Android Market, Google Music, and Google eBookstore, marking a paradigm shift in Google’s digital distribution strategy. The Google Play store has reached over 1.43 million apps published and over 50 billion app downloads. Apps are being downloaded on a similar frenetic scale on other app distribution platforms too, like Apple’s App Store (Mac/iTunes), Windows Store, BlackBerry World (yes, it still exists) and others. The fact is that while earlier, a great app would involve a lot of scepticism before critics actually accepted its greatness, the times have changed.

No more are any eyebrows raised when apps like SnapChat get lofty valuations making co-founder and CEO (Stanford University dropout) Evan Spiegel the world’s “youngest billionaire” at an age of merely 25. An anecdote doing the rounds of the tech circles confirms that today, a person is considered ancient even if he knows the workings of Facebook or Linkedin or Twitter. Well, ask yourself, do you know what does the logo of SnapChat look like on their app? If the answer is “hmm…”, you’re ancient.

So how is all this related to your business? Internet users in India are growing exponentially and smartphones are leading this revolution. With the arrival of low-cost, mid-range smartphones (thanks to companies like Xiomi, Vivo, Oppo and Micromax back home in India), a large percentage of the population is accessing Internet on mobiles for the first time.  A recent report by IAMAI and KPMG projected that India will reach 236 million mobile Internet users by 2016, and 314 million by 2017. With over three million plus apps on Android and iOS app stores, 100+ funded startups and enterprises that are focusing on their mobile app strategies, estimates say that even capturing 30% of this market can reap huge rewards.

Keeping speculation aside, there’s a far more significant trend underlying the whole economy. One of the most important activities of human mankind has always been the transfer of knowledge and skills from generations. Knowledge was documented in books and lessons were offered in classrooms. This is how we have advanced as a species. However, this process has shifted dramatically over the last century due to modern means of communication and due to the youth of today having unhindered access to this vast ocean of information over internet.

Computing and the internet being a dominant part of the economy, the transfer of knowledge has increasingly become machine-to-human. Knowledge is now stored on countless servers, displayed on webpages, and accessible by apps. Many potential students now turn to Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) like  Udacity, Coursera, Vedantu, EduKart and others on the Internet to gain professional learning. The extent of knowledge available is such that Harvard Med School now allows interested students to clear all their subjects through the online mode.

The point of all this is that the youth of today is not on desktops, and not even surfing the internet using search engines (umm, okay, they do do that, but that too through, say, the Google Search app). You’ll find them inside apps. Given that huge sums of money are riding on how today’s youth choose one brand over the other, the call of the day is to believe that whatever your business is, if you wish not to be ancient tomorrow, get an app!