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Study: The Untapped Mobile Opportunity in Rural India

Shivkumar M Shivkumar M has over 20 years of experience shaping technology product and GTM strategy. With B2B SaaS expertise across industries, he leads product launches, adoption, and GTM as Director of Product Marketing.
Study: The Untapped Mobile Opportunity in Rural India

To say that the potential market for mobile apps in India is huge would be an understatement. 
According to, India was the second largest market in the world for app downloads in 2021 and is set to be the world’s fastest growing market this year.*   
In 2020, users in India spent 1.6 trillion hours on their mobile devices, and India took up 14% of all global app installs that year as well.
For a population of 1.4 billion people, that means India is a vast, fast-moving market — one that is still largely untapped by global brands.

Mobile Usage Study: How India Uses Its Devices 

To better understand how individuals in India use their mobile devices, we conducted a study on mobile usage behavior in India, analyzing over 300 mobile apps on our platform, each with an average monthly user base of more than 4 million users (see methodology below). 
What we discovered has an impact on your strategy for reaching Indian consumers. 
Some highlights from the study:

1.Women Are Gaining In Key Verticals

While the mobile market remains largely dominated by men with average app consumption by men standing at 72% and by women at 28%, Indian women outpace men in ecommerce app usage, accounting for 54% of all usage.  
And women are steadily increasing usage in three verticals — namely, education technology, social engagement, and fintech. Marketers in these key verticals have a tremendous opportunity for attracting new users to their apps by personalizing their campaigns for women.  
In comparison, the top app verticals used by men are gaming, travel and transportation, and media and entertainment. 

2. Uninstalls Are High

While app usage is high, uninstall rates similarly soared, particularly in gaming apps (44%) and social engagement apps (46%). 
On the other end of the spectrum, the apps that witnessed the lowest number of uninstalls were on-demand services (21%), followed by health and fitness (25%).
New User Uninstall Rates

Uninstall Rate over a month %
Average Time Taken by 80% of these Uninstalls (in days)No of apps
Media and Entertainment35%1137
Travel and Transportation29%1023
Health and Fitness25%1322
Social Engagement46%917
On Demand Services21%1316


3. App Penetration: Rural vs. Urban India

The biggest opportunity however appears to be related to app penetration. Our mobile usage study shows that app penetration is much higher in urban centers at 83.6% compared to rural areas. 
The app verticals that led in rural areas were: education technology (19.2%), media and entertainment (17.7%), and fintech (17.7%). 
The apps that had the lowest rate of adoption in rural areas were health and fitness apps (13.15%). 
Meanwhile in urban areas, the highest app consumption was in health and fitness, ecommerce, and travel and transportation.

Rural vs. Urban Distribution Across Verticals

VerticalUrban %Rural %No of apps
Media and Entertainment82.2317.7712
Travel and Transportation84.9915.016
Health and Fitness86.8513.155


The Opportunities 

What does this mean for your own mobile marketing strategies? 
First, understand that apps are global. And even if you are not actively thinking about reaching audiences in India, they may already be customers. Focus on building relationships with them. Incentivize them to spread the word about your app via loyalty programs and rewards
Second, if your app is in one of the high-consumption categories in India, your brand has a tremendous opportunity to reach the vast audience there. Rural areas are using a lot of edutech, entertainment, and fintech apps. Urban areas are using a lot of health, ecommerce, and travel. Double down on your app marketing strategies. Find what works for your audience so you can acquire more.
Third, if your app falls in a category that has a higher percentage of male or female users, there is an opportunity to send them gender-specific marketing communications—messaging that is designed to resonate with the target audience’s interests and concerns.   

Methodology of the Mobile Study

Our data science team analyzed over 300 mobile apps across different verticals, with an average monthly user base of more than 4 million users. We sought to understand the mobile usage behavior and identify trends in app consumption across India. 
The mobile usage behavior was broken down by: location (urban vs.rural), gender distribution across verticals (fintech, edutech, media and entertainment, health and fitness, travel and transportation, ecommerce, social engagement), response to engagement campaigns across different channels and verticals, and uninstall rates across those verticals. 
The study analyzed over 782 billion push notifications, 52 billion emails, and 10 billion in-app notifications to get the insights above.

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Last updated on March 29, 2024