Monday, October 18, 2021

Tens of thousands of Indians are using independent mobile apps to duel with Google and Apple

Indian software companies are clashing with Mountain View in a big way.

Mountain View, Calif.-based Google Inc.’s Android operating system and its software and services like YouTube and Gmail have dominated the Indian market since its launch in 2008. Yet, for the past year, dozens of Indian software companies have emerged and are building independent smartphone applications that compete with Google’s offerings.

Their goal: To gain a seat at the table and sell users to apps they can sell directly to them, rather than Google, which owns Android.

“The key is that you don’t want to be dependent on the technology players that control these ecosystems,” said Vivek Sahay, executive director of RedSeer, an investment company focused on early-stage technology companies based in Bangalore, India’s technology capital.

India is increasingly becoming a technological hub. Microsoft announced in June plans to hire at least 1,500 people there. Meanwhile, Apple is reportedly planning to open a store there in June of next year.

“There’s a huge amount of entrepreneurial spirit here, a rising middle class and also technical talent, and it all helps make it a pretty appealing market for tech companies,” said Martin Varsavsky, chairman of the New Delhi-based iSpirt technology group.

Here’s a shortlist of startups in India that operate outside of the Android software.

RideScout, which was launched in 2012, provides end-to-end taxi booking, navigation and booking services across cities in India and abroad. It works with more than 35,000 operators, and works with over 600 cities.

A job board called BharatMatrimony was founded in March 2012, for “usedrable” (a.k.a. irrelevant) jobs. Once people sign up, it will match them with available employers, and match employers with qualified candidates.

OneBillionShop, which started in 2012, was named the best mobile shopping app in the country by Andamoscipt, an Internet service development agency that is collaborating with the India Social Research Network to digitize the shopping of 13 million people. OneBillionShop is supposed to make mobile shopping more convenient and faster.

At the end of 2012, one of the largest apps in India is Videocon Digital TV, which has 20 million subscribers, the biggest satellite platform in India. It also features an online video streaming service, which has 1,000 Hindi shows.

Wahli.com, which also launched in 2012, is another digital TV startup that has 30 million visitors, providing television channels on mobile devices. It shows Indian cricket matches and is popular with men.

Though their applications may not be compatible with Google’s Android operating system yet, they say they’re close to doing so.

“It’s a huge market opportunity,” Sahay said. “You’re looking at tens of millions, at least, of untapped users in India with the kind of switching points and repeat buying power, so we’re starting to see companies really generate demand and negotiate power to push them to open up.”

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