Those striving to craft a blockbuster app for the Indian market may take a few notes from the success of Newshunt, perhaps the least heralded of Indian apps but by far the most successful, at least in terms of its gigantic numbers.
Newshunt—the largest News application in India and the Nos. 1 News Application on Google Play—apparently outstrips even Flipboard and Pulse in terms of its numbers, which makes sense considering India’s mammoth 1.25 billion population. Even though a big chunk of that figure is illiterate, it has still allowed the company to have reached 40 million installs and 1.4 billion pageviews a month (claims the company) by offering news junkies a gateway to over 100 newspapers in 11 languages on different mobile platforms.
Late last year, the company also waded into the ebook landscape and in a short space of time says that it has 1.5 million of them downloaded from its storefront. These are not lame Pdf knock-offs but the genuine article and across a wide array of regional languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Marathi which have been sourced from over 50 regional language publishers. Apparently India has over 25 million eBook readers making it a huge market, second only to the US’s 60 million.
Now, the company seems to have innovated further by getting into the Singles market—it has tied up the Delhi Press so that individual stories printed in any of the publisher’s magazines (such as Caravan, Manohar Kahaniyan and Saras Salil) can be purchased for the Rs. 3—although this may not be such an enticing deal if you can access current and back issues of said magazines on the net for free to begin with. Nevertheless, the company says that it sold over 5,000 magazines within the first 10 days of this service.
The trend is only going to get stronger when you consider that the vernacular market is booming—and at a 11 percent clip, outstrips the Indian one by a good 6 percentage points, according to a Deloitte study.
So, while many startups in the media realm chase the English-speaking public, here's one that has managed to focus on where the action is—namely the vernacular arena, where over thirty languages and thousands of dialects are spoken by a billion or so people. This is the India that will ultimately make a difference to the bottom line and figuring out how to serve them is smart business.