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The launch of Digital India AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge, today, is truly a momentous opportunity for Indian Tech Developers, Entrepreneurs and companies to build for India at a scale, that is unparalleled anywhere in the World. The App Innovation challenge seeks to tap into the immense talent pool that exists in India and will ensure that robust, scalable, secure and useful Apps are developed for various needs of people, not only in India but for the entire world.
When we look at the App Ecosystem, we realise that Indians are amongst the top users for Apps in the world. In the first quarter of 2020, there have been a total of 33.6 Billion App downloads, an increase of 20.3% over the figures of 27.9 Billion of Q1 of 2019. India with more than 5 Billion downloads is the world leader in downloads – most of these downloads are from Google Playstore as number of Apple users in India is minimal as compared to western countries.
When one looks at the companies with maximum downloads of Apps, Facebook leads the pack with almost 800 Million downloads in Q1 of 2020, almost 12 million more than Google. Bytedance, the Chinese company, with Apps like Tiktok is third on the list with almost 500 Million downloads. Voodoo –the French Company that makes popular Video games and Tencent, the Chinese company with Apps like Wechat complete the top 5 companies with most downloads. Thus amongst the top 5 companies, 2 are American, 2 are Chinese and 1 is French. The trend is the same when we look at top 20 companies – 5 are American, 5 are Chinese, and the remaining 10 are from France, Belarus, Israel, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Turkey, Ireland, Vietnam and Cyprus. Thus, the irony is that while as users, India is amongst the top with maximum users downloading the Apps, none of the Indian companies or App developers are amongst the Top.
To get further insights into what are the kind of Apps, being downloaded, one looks at the data being made available by Sensor Tower. As per the report, top 5 App categories being downloaded on Playstoreare Games, Utility tools like File Transfer, Entertainment, Social and Communications – with more than 10 Billion Game downloads as against the next highest – Tools with around 1.55 Billion downloads. On App Store, the top 5 categories include Games, Photo & Video, Entertainment, Utilities and Social Networking – with almost 3 Billion Game downloads ag against the next highest – 665 million downloads of Photo & Video.
Based on this data, the 8 categories for the AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge have been identified which include Office & Work from Home tools, Social Networking, E-Learning, Entertainment, Health & Wellness, Business including Agritech& Fintech, News and Games. The possibilities of developing Apps in these categories are immense and the challenge is quite flexible as it will allow developers to submit Apps in sub categories amongst the broad 8 categories. This Challenge round is to be followed by another round wherein more complex Apps, that may require longer time frame for development will also be included. This Innovation Challenge with various cash awards and incentives of featuring Apps on Leader Boards will create an ecosystem where Indian entrepreneurs and Startups will be incentivised to ideate, incubate, build, nurture and sustain Tech solutions that can serve not only citizens within India but also the world.
In the last few years, India has shown to the world that it is second to none when it comes to building tech solutions at a very large scale. The UID project revolutionised the way one looks at identity and enabled initiatives like Direct Benefit Transfer which helped the Government extend welfare benefits to citizens without delays or leakages. The UPI initiative is a truly world class solution that allows seamless financial transactions between various entities. Digilocker has enabled citizens to store their documents securely and has enabled paperless governance to a great level. The Aarogya Setu App is another classic example which was built within 15 days and has more than 130 million downloads in just about 3 months. All these solutions have been developed with active participation of Indian industry and academia working hand in hand with Government and this unique model of partnership between Government, Industry and Academia has the potential to create many more tech products that can help make lives of citizens easier and better.
Thus, it is evident that this Innovation Challenge is a great opportunity for all Indian startups and entrepreneurs to scale up their solutions and products and help make India Digitally AatmaNirbhar. This is also proved with the enthusiastic response received for the Video Conferencing Innovation Challenge launched by Ministry of Electronics & Information Technology, last month which saw more than 2000 applications, out of which 12 were shortlisted to make prototypes and after evaluation top 5 have been identified to build full-scale solutions. The fact that these companies are from Jaipur, Hyderabad, Alappuzha and Chennai shows the extent of the talent pool that exists in our tech startups.
This App Innovation Challenge will further give an opportunity to startups and entrepreneurs from all across India to contribute to building these Apps and get awarded as also feature on Leader boards. Thus, the Digital India AatmaNirbhar Bharat App Innovation Challenge is truly a bold leap towards building an empowered Digital Society and a Digital Aatmanirbhar Bharat.
To participate, one can log in to https://innovate.mygov.in/app-challenge/
CEO MyGov & NeGD
(Views expressed are personal)