“We set ourselves the target of turning profitable by 2021 and have already achieved it. The pandemic and ban on Chinese apps have both brought about a significant shift in the overall landscape,” chief executive Rakesh Deshmukh said.
The company has become profitable on the basis of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, and has an annual recurring revenue of $10 million, he said.
Indus OS claims to have more than 100 million users. It monetises the app store by charging apps for premium placement on the page as well as promotional activities.
Set up in 2015, it is a multilingual digital platform aimed at increasing consumption of digital content in regional languages. It has partnerships with mobile phone brands like Samsung, Karbonn and Micromax for its app store. The company would continue to pursue similar partnerships with smartphone manufacturers, Deshmukh said.
The app store is available in 12 regional languages apart from English, and doesn’t require any email sign in to download apps.
First-time users do not find it easy to navigate the play store and almost 40% of the downloads on Android phones do not happen through the play store, Deshmukh claimed. “There is a language barrier for a lot of first-time users and they need an email ID to start downloading apps, which is also an issue,” he added.
During the pandemic, the app store saw a surge in downloads of gaming apps, followed by entertainment, social media, education and ecommerce applications.
Deshmukh said the ability to discover and consume content in local languages was a big factor that was helping drive growth for the company.
India is estimated to have about 500 million mobile phone users, of which 100 million have used the app store. As smartphone penetration increases in the country and more users make the switch from the feature phone, providing them access to content and apps in their own language will be an important growth driver for platforms such as Indus OS. At present, the highest number of users on the app store are in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, followed by Gujarat, West Bengal and Karnataka.
Indus would look at building similar app stores for other countries as part of a global expansion strategy, but Deskhmukh said that would happen only after a few years. For now, the firm is focusing on growing its presence in India.
In June mobile commerce solutions firm Affle said it had acquired an 8% stake in OSLabs, which operates Indus App Bazaar, for $2.86 million (Rs 21.3 crore). Other investors in the company include Samsung, VenturEast and JSW Ventures.
The app store has more than 400,000 apps and is India’s largest independent app store.