An Interview with 9Apps | TelecomDrive.com
Ebrahim Popat, Country Manager, 9Apps speaks with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about the way gaming industry is moving ahead and what are some of the innovations that 9Apps is bringing to the market.
How do you look at the smartphone driven gaming market in India?
According to The Gaming Show 2016 facts Indian gaming industry is estimated for the Annual growth rate of 14.3% with mobile Gaming taking the lead at 71% share which is driven by rising younger population, higher disposable incomes, introduction of new gaming genres, and the increasing number of smartphone and tablet users.
A Smartphone has eliminated the exclusivity of a gaming console and bridged the gap between general public and high-end games. The Play Station and Nintendo have consistently reported a drop in sales over the last few quarters, losing out due to the popularity of smartphones and mobile games and this trend is likely to continue.
Launch of impressive operating software that support complex games along with latest phone processors with increased capacity and power that are able to render graphics, audio and video for console quality games are some of the key factors aiding popularity of mobile games.
The most frequent game purchasers, 41% are female and 59% are male.
Women now are just as likely as men to play games on their phones, with casual games like Candy Crush Saga. The 9Apps internal survey suggests that Indians majorly prefer exciting but simple games like car racing, cricket-related and action games.
What kind of innovations is 9Apps bringing to this market?
Our effort has been to provide quality content and services and promote localised and relevant apps and games in each country we operate in. Our homepage offers fresh content on a daily basis and we recommend apps based on your preferences and past choices.
Our aim is not just to acquire more users but to engage with them deeply 9Apps is optimized for local network conditions to guarantee a downloading experience to users even if they are in bad connection.
Mobile payment is a big issue for India users. 9Apps has tied up with telecom players so that all in-app purchases are added to your monthly mobile bill, even if users do not have a credit card.
In 2016, 9Apps tied up with Disney India’s Interactive Business to host and promote over 300 popular mobile games from its gaming catalogue. 9Apps now showcases games that include Inside Out Thought Bubbles, Mickey Cup, Minnie Cake Factory, Toy Story: Smash It!, Where’s My Water?, Lion King, Cricket World Cup Fever, ABCD2, Arjun: The Prince of Bali and many more.
Also, we forged a strategic partnership with Gameloft, a leading digital and social game publisher to distribute its most popular games in India. Through this partnership Gameloft users will be able to enjoy its top games like Asphalt Nitro, Real Football 2016, Dragon Mania Legends, Danger Dash and many more on the 9Apps platform.
How do you look at further engagement and development of your App store?
Being world’s leading third-party app stores for Android apps and games, we see ourselves as a local app store in every country we operate in. We provide local apps with more visibility, and offer better experience to local users with localized elements.
To address some of the critical challenges faced by Indian developers, 9Apps launched an InDev Program (worth $ 20 million) to help Indian independent and start-up developers with specially designed solutions, especially in user acquisition and monetization. The Program targets to help over 100 independent and small developers over the next 2 years.
At a time when people usually go to Google Play Store, for all app related content, what is so special about your store that users will get attracted?
Apart from all the free apps available on Google Play, we provide local apps with more visibility, and offer better experience to local users with localized elements. 9Apps is now much more than just a tool to download apps and games. Recently, we entered the lucrative e-commerce space in India.
9Apps now offers multiple and exciting new features on its app for shopaholics, along with providing abundant android apps and games. We are the first app marketplace to offer these services to users. With these features, we aim to become a one-stop solution for our users and help them shop smart. 9Apps is now much more than just a tool to download apps and games.
What is your vision for your Indian operations? How many active users do you have today and what kind of base do you plan to have in a year’s time?
In 2016, 9Apps registered over 260 million Monthly Active Users (MAUs) who generate over 800 million app distributions every month (26 million app downloads every single day). Apart from providing localised and most popular apps with a smooth user experience, 9Apps is also committed to help local developers and bolster a healthy ecosystem in the country.
There are a few monitoring tools and services available for tracking app trends around the world, but there is hardly any specifically created for India. Keeping this in mind, we have launched 9Apps Trends, India’s first comprehensive local app market monitoring service that provides app trends, data analysis and an in-depth market report.
The monitoring tool will address the growing need for a comprehensive app industry analysis and help local app developers and distributors. 9Apps Trends is a public web facility with free access to all.
Please share with us some of your challenges while operating in this market? How can these challenges be overcome?
While the Indian app market is on a high-growth trajectory, it continues to face lot of difficulties, including connectivity, local online payment issues and lack of effective promotional channels.
Effective addressal to these issues will attract more talent to the sector. The app development industry has undergone rapid expansion and is flush with talent in India. What is missing is the right platform for these developers to showcase their talent, get exposure for their apps and connect with fellow developers. In a nutshell, the industry is fraught with the following challenges:
- Network with slow connection
- Budget phones with limited capacity
- User acquisition (competition with big brands and lack of local promotion channels)
9Apps, as one of the most important products of UCWeb, is part of UC Open Platform – an ecosystem to help Indian mobile internet players acquire users and monetise traffic. 9Apps is committed to helping local developers with its data analysis, local mobile payment solution along with integrated promotion and branding opportunities
We are aggressively making effort to provide world class service to our customer and this is helping us to grow rapidly. Every day is a new opportunity and we, at 9Apps, try to approach them with vigor, technique and compassion.
What are the key priorities for 9Apps in India?
We are glad that leaders in the gaming industry like Disney and Gameloft are choosing our platform to popularize their games. Going forward, we will be on the lookout for partnerships that can add value to our users and, in turn, help companies reach out to our global user base of over 250 million monthly users and a strong India footprint.
We also plan to continue our efforts with game developers, publishers, startups, payment providers and every other partner to build a sustainable ecosystem. With the right platform for distribution and monetisation, developers in India will come up with content and apps relevant for the Indian market – compact, localised and in regional languages.