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Welcome to Appistan!

business Updated: Jul 28, 2012 00:42 IST
Vivek Sinha
Vivek Sinha
Hindustan Times
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It’s not easy but then it’s no rocket science either.

Freshly minted college graduates, professionals with or without a background in information technology, first generation start-ups and even school students are out to seek a fortune in the wonder world of apps.

An ever-increasing army of loose-knit app developers, who run into tens of thousands on a conservative count -— have developed or are busy developing applications for everything from cricket score updates to live TV streaming, weather information to games, tuitions to music downloads.

On the demand side, smartphones and tablets are mushrooming, and they are breeding a hunger for fancy apps that can help people get more out of their machines.

India alone has more than 900 million mobile phone connections. There are only 20 million smartphones in India now, but the figure is doubling every year, say industry sources.

The hunger for information is huge. And it does not cost more than a couple of lakh of rupees for an an app to be developed — they can be built from a garage or a bedroom computer.

For app developers, it is an opportunity to blend low investment and high demand. For handset manufacturers, apps drive demand for the device or the software platform they use, such as Android, iOS, Windows or BlackBerry OS.

Internet giant Google-championed operating system Android has been at the forefront of partnerships that have made cheap devices based on the platform easy.

“The Internet is making the leap from being wired to mobile,” said Lalitesh Katragadda, country head--India Product at Google. He added that mainstream Indians are technology curious and device savvy and prefer going online on their mobile handsets.

Of course, the apps need not be for Indians alone. It is a global game. Like the IT industry, app developers have the world as their playground.

The mantra: Make apps that make user experience on Internet better and in the process rake in money. The money can come from subscriptions, advertisements or outright sale of apps to telecom or handset companies, besides revenue-sharing with telecom service providers.

Saurabh Baid an IT engineer and businessman from Jaipur made an office utility app based on Android that helps users manage e-mails. He sold the application to an Atlanta-based firm for $12,000.

"The firm has retained me to offer monthly updates on my app as well," Baid said, without disclosing the name of US-based firm to which he sold off his office utility app.

Developers such as Baid may still be few. A large number of developers still offer their apps for free downloads where novelty factor and timing are the key.

Rohan Kumar, chief marketing officer of PlayUp India developed an Olympics app called PlayUp that keeps the users updated about latest action on Olympics. This will be made available at the Samsung App Store.

Vamshi Reddy, founder of Apalya, developed an app that streams live TV and also MyStation app that allows all live events as pre-recorded music shows. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/Popup/2012/7/28-07-12-biz-02.jpg

Computer programming has become mainstream even in high schools, making the game easier for youngsters.

“Most schools and colleges still teach the C, C++ and Java and any student who has a good command over these languages can become an app developer," Faisal Kawoosa, lead research analyst at CyberMedia Research told HT.

Nokia said it has people who are software engineers with experience but there then are others too who don't have an IT background but are still equally successful at developing mobile applications.

"Those in Migital, a Gurgaon based app developer, have a textile industry background, while Twist Mobile, one of the leading Indian developers on the Nokia Store, has developers who were farmers,” said Vipul Mehrotra, director, Nokia India.

"At present the concentration of Indian app developers is to make quick money by selling their apps to bigger firms. Eventually, these smaller players will start promoting their apps themselves,” said Achen Jakher, CEO of US-based Svelte Systems. Jakher helps smaller app developer firms to promote their products to bigger firms in the US.

In that sense, it is a growing market with potential, but there is a word of caution: the success rate is only one per cent now. Free apps are the norm, and advertisement support is not strong enough yet. Paids apps must be worth the money paid.

Yet, with the revolution in smart gadgets in a connected world getting off only one, the optimism seems justified.