Monday, 2024 March 4

Indian mobile apps take back the throne from their Chinese peers in 2019

Despite Chinese internet giants such as ByteDance, Tencent, and YY sharpening their focus on India as they seek to push their ecosystem of consumer apps to its half a billion smartphone users, the list of country’s top 200 apps was crowded with homegrown companies, according to San Francisco-based mobile marketing analytics firm AppsFlyer.

While 2018 marked the dramatic rise of Chinese apps in India, the momentum this year has shifted in favor of local players such as Indian payment apps, the report observed.

AppsFlyer’s 2019 list of top 200 apps by install volume, featured 41% Indian apps, while Chinese apps dropped to 38% from last year’s 43%. Interestingly, in 2018 there were 38% Indian apps in the list of top 200 apps by download.

“Domestic apps expanded on their already dominant position in the leading shopping category, widely considered as India’s largest and most popular apps sector,” the study found. “Chinese apps—which lead in categories such as gaming, news & entertainment, and utilities—slipped to second place this year, to a still-impressive 38% share (down from 43% in 2018.”

“Indian and Chinese apps swapped places this year,” the report said. “This uptick happened chiefly at the expense of Chinese apps, which fell from their lead position.”

“Altogether, Chinese and Indian apps make up almost four-fifths (79%) of the list,” it added.

While the growth of domestic apps has been driven by shopping, Chinese apps have done well in the categories that they are already strong in.

In gaming, owing to the big-wigs such as Tencent, Chinese games such as Clash of Kings continue to dominate the list of India’s most popular mobile games.

The Chinese gaming apps captured 20% of the market, up from 15% last year, the report said. Indian gaming apps captured 12% of the segment, while Israeli developers (particularly social casino apps) and Games from Slovenia (which may include popular casual offerings such as endless running games) constituted 11% and 3%, respectively, of the market share in the segment.

Among news and entertainment apps such as TikTok, the report said, Chinese companies bolstered their share in 2019, now making up 59% of the overall share, up sharply from 36% in 2018.

Meanwhile, Indian apps dominated the finance category, making up 74% of all finance apps in the top 200 list. Although Chinese apps grew to 10% in 2019, up from 3% last year—mainly at the expense of the leading Indian apps.

Source: AppsFlyer report ‘State of App Marketing in India, 2019’.

Given the size and potential of the Indian market, it is expected that more foreign competitors would enter the country over the next decade, “following in the footsteps of the Chinese firms, which have expanded at a surprising clip.”

“Foreign players have begun to sit up and take notice of India’s extraordinary rise,” the report said after India overtook the United States as the country with the highest number of non-organic installs (which involves companies incentivizing users to install) last year, said the AppsFlyer’s report.

Non-organic installs have continued to grow in volume across the board since last year, indicating mobile ad spend in the country would also rise steadily.

The rise in non-organic installs “demonstrates that app marketers are both increasing their investment in paid campaigns and employing more effective use of retargeting through enhanced analytics,” the report said.

According to data and research firm eMarketer, India’s mobile ad spending market is expected to reach USD 1.73 billion in 2021 from USD 1.14 billion in 2019.

Moulishree Srivastava
Moulishree Srivastava
In-depth, analytical and explainer stories and interviews on technology, internet economy, investments, climate tech and sustainability. Coverage of business strategies, trends in startup and VC ecosystems and cross-border stories capturing the influence of SEA, China and Japan on the local startup industry.

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