India’s growing appetite for apps has made it the fastest developing market, recording a phenomenal 190% rise in the last three years. Research by leading mobile data analytics firms reveals that India downloaded over 19 billion apps in 2019, up from 6.5 billion in 2016. With over 500 million internet users, most of them on mobile, India has built a thriving app ecosystem.

Understanding the app economy

A landmark report by think tank Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) examined India’s app economy in greater detail, explaining how there was essentially a paradigm change in which mobile devices evolved from being merely used for text and calls to something more.

The app economy took off in India after the economic crisis of 2008 when recruitment was low. With a well-established IT software services industry in place, fresh IT graduates and experienced IT professionals were able to contribute positively to building the app economy.

This coincided with the time when the App Store digital distribution platform in 2008 successfully challenged the monopoly of mobile operators who offered their subscribers a limited number of apps. The innovation of the App Store concept was that it created a low-cost mechanism to distribute apps, which enables even the smallest software developers to get the economies of scale, added another report by the Progressive Policy Institute (PPI).

Apps are now being built for everything, as people use apps for shopping, banking, payments, healthcare, payroll, and so on. Everyone, from large enterprises hoping to meet their new customers on their phone to governments connecting citizens to social services, uses apps to further their reach.

App ecosystem

The app economy is part of a highly networked and interdependent ecosystem, with components like network infrastructure, devices, content, and supporting OS. The thriving app market also indicates greater job creation in the app ecosystem to meet the demand. India is expected to have the world’s largest developer population by 2024. PPI reported that India had 1.674 million app economy jobs in August 2019, up from 1.208 million in 2016. The iOS ecosystem in India accounted for 873,000 jobs, while Android contributed to 1.36 million developer jobs. Bengaluru leads the developer market with 362,000 app economy jobs, followed by Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Pune, and Chennai.

As mobile data prices are lowered and cheaper smartphones are now within reach for the average consumer, the Indian app economy has received another boost. As the PPI report highlights, the growth of the app economy workforce is a good indicator of how India is already poised for the next level of the Information Revolution.