As the Aatmanirbhar Bharat agenda gains momentum, it may probably be in the fitness of things that more Indian mobile publishers push themselves harder to come up with real game-changing Apps which can find international acceptance and do not seemingly focus all their attention on developing ‘Indianized’ versions of globally popular applications.
Adopting such an approach– instead of simply being “inspired” by an App that is already there to make something similar but better for a faster market entry – could also work to the advantage of those developing ‘Indian Apps’ since having a business model where genuine innovation finds no place and is largely centred around tweaks is unlikely to be successful in the long run.
Even if a temporary surge in downloads of some local offerings following the ban imposed on a slew of competing mobile applications creates a mirage of this being a possibility.Because increased downloads per se– particularly in the highly promising short video and gaming App categories –may not always amount to much,for even post-installationof the ‘Indian Apps’on their phones, a sufficient number of people might not use these often enough under the impression that other more established competitors of the banned applications provide a better user experience.
Besides, there is also nothing to prevent entrenched foreign Apps not facing any restrictionsin operating here from quickly reinventing themselves in such a manner that Indian users do not feel that they are missing out on any local flavour by patronizing these mobile applications.
In such a scenario, average Indians may not find much of a reason to shift their App loyalties in favour of one having no other USP except it has been developed by a domestic enterprise. As the question that could well arise in their minds is whether there is any need for them to select analmost identical product, however good it may be, when the original is available and serves its designated purpose.
With one of the biggest pools of engineering and IT talent worldwide, India has the potential to become the global App-development power house and not just remain a large lucrative market for mobile applications developed by technology majors of foreign countries.
Locally-owned companies have more than adequate intellectual capacity available to them to come up with Apps that can be global benchmarks in the categories being catered to, and, in the process, provide a fillip to the ‘Make in India’ and ‘Digital India’ missions. Apart from giving us real cause to go ‘vocal about local’.
All the big names in the technology sphere globally – whom we look up to for improving the quality of our lives through their innovative products or services – did not get to where they have by choosing to play safe and make incremental changes to existing tech offerings. An innovative mindset, coupled with an attitude of never settling for anything but the best, is what has always marked them out as ground-breakers.
An aspiring country like India which aims to leave a major imprint on the 21st century needs innovators who can turn this dream into a reality. It would be unfortunate if many of our vibrant start-ups on whom we bank to make this nation the most influential player in the App arena equate ingenuity with tweaks and show a marked disinclination to get into uncharted territory fearing that doing so may delay their chances of achieving ‘unicorn status’.
The author is Advisor at the Gurgaon-based advisory on communications and stakeholder advocacy R M Consulting https://rmconsulting.in . (Views expressed are personal)