My team, which tracks data on apps and tech companies in India, recently did a deep dive to discover which apps are currently growing fastest in the country. Looking at growth rates over the last two months turned up some interesting results. It surprised us to see how many unexpected things people have an affinity for!
There are apps being built out that play on every emotion from nostalgia to sexual frustration to economic insecurity.
It’s amazing how often unfunded companies have larger user bases than highly funded ones and how many entrepreneurs are building better and bigger businesses without ever stepping into the limelight.
We decided to shine a light on these companies both to showcase to investors that there are businesses worth talking to that are not part of the “ecosystem” and to show entrepreneurs (current and aspiring) that you can build a business without chasing investors. I also want to highlight the themes that are gaining traction since they reveal much about the fears and aspirations of app users in India.
To provide a balanced view, I’ve included products experiencing both exponential and linear growth. It’s worth keeping in mind as you read this that as the user base of any product gets larger; its growth may slow down in percentage terms despite picking up an equivalent or higher number of users.
Here’s our chart of the 16 fastest-growing apps based on the last two months of performance, in increasing order of growth.
One thing that stands out about this data is the repetition of a few key themes These are:
1. Utility Tools that improve phone performance or help with file transfers. Take a look at Booster Kit, Plutoie File Manager, and XShare. Utility apps are growing fast and cover everything from apps that improve your phone’s performance and increase its battery life to those that delete duplicate files to increase memory.
2. Wall Papers and Posters. These just keep growing. Why, though? The Play Store is strewn with apps like this. People want to customize their UI and phone functionality to their needs. Apps like Launcher allow them to do that.
3. Government Related. Apps like eCourts Services target a specific use case and audience – in this case, the legal fraternity. Rather surprisingly, the developer is the government of India. The applications of technology for legal services and the ability to mine through large amounts of data are very compelling. This is a space where intelligent assistants and bots could become very powerful tools.
4. Nostalgia. Time and again, we see products that ride on this trend taking off. Ludo, for some reason, is a mobile game people can’t get enough of. And, yes, “Photo Par Shayari Likhne Wala Apps Write Hindi” is a real thing.
5. Dating. Products that claim to help users find love — or at least a date — are growing really fast. This is a space with a lot of organic demand. It also tells us there is a great deal of frustration with current dating apps like Tinder. (Mostly disappointed men). Which brings us to an interesting catch 22 situation: Clearly there is a demand for another dating platform, but how do we help people find a significant other when almost across the board they are of the same gender?
6. User Tracking. Some of these products, such as WhatsTracker, are interesting because of the use case they claim to serve (whether they do in fact cater to it is debatable). The ability for us to track where our friends are in real time, creepy as it may sound, is something a lot of people want – especially for their children and significant others, who they worry about. Check out an app called Family Locator to see what I mean.
iPhone users, of course, have a Find My Friend feature, but India is an Android country. Google Maps also has a location sharing feature, but a standalone, purpose-built product might be a better solution.
7. The Unexpected. Plantix is a German app that claims to be a plant doctor for farmers and people who want to cultivate edible crops at home. Its presence in India is still small, but I wonder if its growth is a result of an increasing number of farmers getting connected to the Internet? Are they searching for apps that could help them improve the quality of their produce? I suppose we’ll get a clearer view over the next several months.
[A version of this story originally appeared on the KalaGato blog.]
Ashish Kapoor is chief analyst at market intelligence group KalaGato.