Interview – Ebrahim Popat, Country Manager, 9Apps
Continuing our exclusive series of Interviews with Indian Business Leaders, this month we are in talks with Mr. Ebrahim Popat, Country Manager of 9Apps. With the rapidly expanding industry of indie apps and games, platforms like 9Apps have provided major alternate marketplaces other than Google Play Store & iOS App Store. 9Apps not only brings new user acquisition opportunities to developers but allows end users to discover better content faster. Following are more insights into 9Apps plans for Indian consumers, developers, and upcoming features to the platform.
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Interview – Ebrahim Popat, Country Manager, 9Apps
Q1. From recent data by 9Apps, we know that we Indians love games, especially if they are from our loved Bollywood films, our love for sports like cricket or something based on regional themes. How is 9Apps planning to quench this thirst of local games for the smartphone users in India?
As per multiple reports by leading agencies, spending on mobile games in India is soon estimated to cross the 1 billion dollar mark. Asia generates 55 percent of the $24.9 billion annual revenue in the mobile gaming market of the world. China, Japan and South Korea are the dominant countries in the region and are responsible for 90 percent of Asian revenue, but growth in these markets is slowing. Over the next three years, almost half of all revenue growth will come from that remaining 10 percent, with India growing fastest of all.
Recently, we tied up with Disney India’s Interactive business to host and promote over 300 popular mobile games from its gaming catalog. As India’s most popular third-party Android app market, 9Apps will now showcase games that include Inside Out Thought Bubbles, Mickey Cup, Minnie Cake Factory, Toy Story: Smash It!, Where’s My Water?, Lion King, Cricket World Cup Fever, ABCD2, Arjun: The Prince of Bali and many more.
Q2. Your collaboration with Disney is first of its kind in India, and I would like to congratulate you for this partnership. Apart from their existing library of interactive content and games, are you planning to co-produce exclusive regional content for India?
We are in continuous talks with players across industries to provide value to our users. Recently, we got the rights to offer and promote Salman Khan’s debut game ‘The Salman Khan Game’ 2 weeks before it was available on any other platform. The game has already clocked in 500,000 downloads in less than a month (on 9Apps alone). As part of our Mega Shopping Festival, we tied up with Amazon India – Users get a discount of value 50 INR for free when they sign up for Amazon via 9Apps. In February, 9Apps tied up with Uber India to give free rides services within 10 cities on the occasion of Valentine’s Day.
Q3. What this partnership between Disney and 9Apps means to India’s gaming industry?
It is the first time Disney has partnered with a third-party app market in India to promote some of its most popular games world-wide. With over 250 million monthly active users around the world and a strong presence in India, our association with Disney India’s Interactive business aims to target the local market and add value to our loyal and vast user base in the country. We are glad to see more top players like Disney India choosing 9Apps as a medium to popularize their games. This is a positive indication that our capacity in providing customized promotion service has been recognized by both – key players and the industry.
Q4. The industry of Indie game & app developers is growing faster than ever in India, but the core challenge of discovery is keeping a large number of ‘good games’ going un-noticed. Does 9Apps already, or is planning to provide exclusive visibility to these new games?
Our InDev Program aims to help Indian independent and startup developers with specially designed solutions, especially in user acquisition and monetization. The Program aims to help over 100 independent and small developers over the next two years. Some of the highlights of the InDev Program include zero cost promotion support for developers, 100% revenue sharing with qualified developers for a certain period, professional support and consultancy in testing, localization, etc. InDev Program also sets up a Diamond Awards for qualified game and apps.
Q5. What are 9Apps’ India’s focus areas and plans as of now?
According to our research, there are lots of challenges faced by independent and startup developers. It is not easy for them to get as much brand exposure for their apps as the big players can. UCWeb and 9Apps are committed to building a healthy ecosystem where local users can download quality app and games they like, and developers can enjoy fruitful financial return for providing excellent apps and games.
We have also announced the launch of our Top Developer program wherein we want to recognize the good quality content from Indian developers and see how we can enable better distribution and monetization for them. Also, we want to educate emerging studios, and Indie developers with case studies and some growth hacks to help them scale up.
Q6. New Features to 9Apps?
9Apps recently announced its new shopping feature called 9Apps Comparison – the price comparing hub inside 9Apps, users are able to compare prices and get discounts across 8 leading e-shopping platforms including Flipkart, Snapdeal, Paytm, Myntra, Jabong, Askmebazar, Vooni, and Shopclues. With quality products, attractive discounts, wider options and cheaper prices, we are trying to offer our users a smart and enjoyable one-stop shopping experience.
9Apps is a popular app store for android apps and games from Alibaba Group with over 250 million monthly active users. According to data by 9Apps, more than 17% of all apps downloaded in India are games with most users installing 7 games on an average. Globally, the gaming versus non-gaming app ratio stands at 30%. The gaming app to non gaming app ratio in India remains skewed and presents a massive growth opportunity.
9Apps, on its part, is working to foster an ecosystem for digital content developers to reach out to their target audience. The app store recently announced a tie up Disney India’s Interactive business to host and promote over 300 popular mobile games from its gaming catalogue.
Ebrahim Popat is currently the Country Manager for 9Apps India. In his current role he manages Developer Relations and Distribution for the markets as well as any kind of strategic partnerships and business development activities for India. He and his team are based out of Mumbai and it is UCWeb’s second office in India after Gurgaon. Before 9Apps, Ebrahim worked with Advertising networks Loopme and Vserv for more than 3 years with experience in developer relations and new business development. He has done MBA from BITM University and has a Masters Degree in Telecom from Pune University.