When speaking of app stores, only Google Play Store and Apple App Store come to mind, which is not surprising considering majority of phones come pre-loaded with these app stores. Despite Apple's walled App Store, it is the only way to download and install apps on iPhones and iPads, but with Google Play Store, any Android phone can find and install apps with ease. But there's growing resistance regarding the duopoly that these two conglomerates command in this area, strong enough to inspire new alternatives.
With India pushing for indigenous alternatives to global solutions, homegrown app store Indus OS is making waves in the industry while taking on global tech giants. Started in 2013, the platform already commands a strong user base of over 100 million users.
International Business Times spoke to Anand Singh, head of developer relations and localization at Indus OS, to see where the company is headed, what sets it apart and how it tackles some sensitive data challenges.
Excerpts from interview with Anand Singh
IBT: How important is it to have an Indian App ecosystem?
Anand Singh: Our goal is to cultivate and bring innovation to the entire app store ecosystem, thus providing unmatched value to the world. One aspect of this would be enabling multiple avenues of app and content distribution to users and developers. Currently, these avenues are limited to the ones regulated by policy of the OS owners. We aim to change this by introducing the Indian App Ecosystem.
We must understand that the consolidation between limited hardware players dominating the market should end. Our core competence is software and the current mobile OS regime tightly regulates innovation by whitelabeling certain players while sidelining the rest. At this moment, Google should broaden their horizon by incorporating the needs of the wider industry so that communities across the globe are served and are seamlessly boarded onto the digital economy. Before we discuss the vision and future of an Indian App Ecosystem we need to ensure fair and equitable treatment of all players.
IBT: With the dominance of Google Play Store and App Store, how do you think Indus OS will fit in?
Anand: Indus App Bazaar (IAB) is geared towards providing users with an easily accessible and intuitive platform that allows them to search, discover and download apps and content without any Email ID. In fact, it enables them to use and consume services in more than 12 regional languages. The platform also gives users personalized recommendations and assigns them a personalized Avatar as per their past app usage and downloads. For first-time users, this app store offers a starter kit to help them get started with a few app recommendations and become familiar with the place in no time.
All these unique features make Indus App Bazaar a perfect fit for Indian users hailing from different regions.
IBT: Developers play an important role in building up an app ecosystem. What incentives are given to Indus OS developers?
Anand: Indus OS has a dedicated support team of experts to help developers in their creative journeys, rather than bots that rely on certain algorithms. This team enables developers to access a lot of free tools to distribute apps, self-publish them, analyze their performance in the market, monetize their efforts, and eventually make their mark in the crowd. For instance, the platform provides free translation services and tools to analyze user insights. The idea is to proactively reach out to developers and help them localize their offerings, support them with AWS credits, and with access to detailed analytics on their dashboard to keep going and monetizing their efforts.
IBT: What is the biggest USP of Indus OS as an app store?
Anand: Indus App Bazaar is a one-stop platform for users, offering content in 13+ local languages while enabling them to download apps without any Email ID. The platform provides personalized recommendations to users along with unique app curations for rich and seamless content search and discovery. It has a 'for you' page, where a separate Avatar is created and assigned to every user as per their past app downloads and consumption. The platform also offers a Starter Kit to first-time users to help them get quickly familiar with the app store and make the most of all of the offerings.
Indus App Bazaar enhances discoverability of apps through rich media formats like app stories, videos, etc, where users can discover apps and their latest offerings/features via interesting snackable content
IBT: How does Indus OS address the challenges of data breaches?
Anand: Indus App Bazaar has a robust security infrastructure, which ensures that no data is collected without the user's consent. In fact, the data that is collected with their permission also remains within the country and is not sourced to any third party for personal gains.
IBT: How does Make in India and Vocal for Local initiatives by the government help?
Anand: India has a lot of potential and talented local developers who are innovative and capable enough to bring change to the existing systems. However, in the absence of the right platforms and adequate resources, they mostly fail to extend their offerings to the right target audience even if their solutions are unique. Initiatives like these will provide local players with the right platform to showcase their talents and grab the untapped growth opportunities to serve users more seamlessly than ever before. In fact, it will also help them grow in their respective fields and establish their presence in the already overcrowded market of creators.