Venus, OS and WhatsApp (VOW) for the Digital March in India

By Faisal Kawoosa

The first six month’s data for 2017 for Smartphones shows almost one-third of Smartphones shipped had internal memory of up to 8 GB. Android OS alone consumes anywhere between 5 GB to 8 GB depending on various factors like version of OS, functionalities enabled, hardware support, etc.

This means for such Smartphones 65% of the internal memory goes with the OS. Even for 16GB internal memory, which is shipped in a little more than one-third of Smartphones, OS could be using 30-50% of the memory.

That leaves users with very little space to install apps of preference and utility.  Considering the default Google apps like Youtube, Maps, etc. installed along with OS, a typical user in India looks for apps like WhatsApp, JioTV, Facebook Messenger, Facebook, Shareit and Truecaller (based on top 10 daily listing of Appannie for the past quarter or so).

Some other popular apps that India uses include Paytm, IRCTC, Flipkart, Amazon besides a banking app.  Only the app installation size of these commonly found apps on Indian Smartphones is more than 0.5 GB.  If we then add the memory consumed by data of these apps along with cache storage, it further squeezes the resources available.

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This leads to underperformance and even low to bad performance experienced by users.  Adding extended memory is an option but at the entry level highly price sensitive segment, this is not the preferred option.  Further the user behavior at that level is entirely different where a user may not be that evolved to back up some images, etc. on cloud storage options like Google Drive and One Drive.

Globally, UC Browser had identified this gap and tried to fill it. It figures in top five free apps based on past 3-4 months’ daily average data, according to Appannie.  But, UC Browser cannot address all the concerns of an Indian user, especially the amateur digital citizen.

The new or first time digital user of India will have impediments like level of English literacy, utility of global apps, etc.  The user would prefer to have localized rather hyper-localized experience from interface as well as content perspective.  This is what Venus Browser developed by Bluesky Inventions Pvt Ltd is attempting to address.  Though they have gone live on the Play store, the formal launch has yet to commence.

However, the statistics they revealed and validated by showing a glimpse of the strong backend analytics engine are encouraging.  In a month’s period without any inorganic promotion, the app has seen some good traction, though numbers are small to draw any long-haul conclusions yet.

This app is a complete ‘Make in India’ initiative and has its storage and servers in India. As its founder and CEO Dinesh Prasad says, “With Venus browser we complete the digital needs of a user.”  Time will decide whether this app could make big. However, looking at the building blocks and the execution strategy layered over a strong R&D focus, it has all potential to become among leading apps out of India.

(The author is General Manager-Research & Consulting, at CyberMedia Research.)

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