New Delhi: Samsung is deepening its localisation efforts and has tied up with domestic operating system developer IndusOS to offer its app store in 12 Indian languages on the entire Galaxy smartphone range in a bid to overthrow market leader Xiaomi.
Samsung’s Chinese rivals Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo are behind in terms of localising apps and offering vernacular services, a gap that the former No. 1 smartphone maker seeks to exploit, especially with only 15% of the population fluent in English, analysts said. The South Korean company hopes to tap the next generation of smartphone users expected mostly from rural India.
“The tremendous growth in demand for the vernacular app economy is expected with a spurt in a number of users from smaller towns and cities… we have completely revamped the Galaxy Apps store and focused on making search and navigation seamlessly possible in vernacular languages,” Sanjay Razdan, senior director at Samsung India, told ET.
With the IndusOS app store, Samsung Galaxy smartphone users won’t require email-based sign-ins to download free apps, a move that will make access less complex, especially for millions in the hinterland who may not have email IDs.
“As the friction of sign-in is removed, more consumers will go online and hence more eyeballs for developers,” Razdan added.
India is one of the fastest-growing markets for mobile apps, with annual revenue growth of 41%. In terms of absolute downloads, India is expected to have the highest growth rate and reach 37.2 billion in 2022, according to third-party estimates.
“Samsung wants to create more Indian services and products and the new partnership is in line with their strategy… This is their first such partnership,” Rakesh Deshmukh, cofounder of Indus OS, told ET.
He added that the Samsung partnership will provide IndusOS access to 30% of the market base in India. In terms of absolute revenue generated, the sale of mobile apps in India was estimated at over $47 million in Q1 of 2018, according to Deshmukh.
Deshmukh said India is dominated by a single app store, Google Play Store, which is not good for the market. In comparison, nine regional app stores control over 93% of China’s app store market.
According to Tarun Pathak, associate director at Counterpoint Technology Market Research, localisation is a big differentiating factor in the competitive smartphone segment.
“With only 15% of the population being fluent in English, localised app store experience and content can bring stickiness for Samsung users who are comfortable in local languages,” he said.
After losing the No. 1 spot, Samsung grew faster than the overall smartphone market and held a 22% market share in Q4 of 2018 against Xiaomi’s 27%, according to Counterpoint. Pathak said Samsung continues to be the leading brand in terms of the installed smartphone base in India.