Hey SwiftKey CMO, It’s Not Food Vs App in India!


Hey SwiftKey CMO, It’s Not Food Vs App in India!

Making a keyboard app free is one thing. But then, talking about it like it has to do something with poverty is borderline conceited.

Earlier today, SwiftKey said that its keyboard for Android will be available for free. It used to cost $3.99 on the Play store. Swiftkey had to do this because of Apple, which recently announced the launch of its predictive keyboard.

Ofcourse, Swiftkey can’t charge for an app when a similar one comes for free (pre-bundled). And yeah, you need a consistent pricing to not piss off your users.

Great move. And thank you!


But what gets my goat is the comment spin that followed. Chief marketing officer Joe Braidwood told FastCompany

In the States, someone would say, ‘Do I buy this app or a coffee?’ In India, it’s ‘Do I buy this app or food for a couple days?’

Full points to the writer for picking the golden quote right. But really?

Agreed that India is poorer. There are more than a billion people in India. It is often bandied about that a third of India still lives on less than one dollar a day. That India, is not going to buy apps. Or a smartphone. Ever (?). For them, the question of app vs food doesn’t arise at all. And this comparison is far fetched.

The India which buys a smartphone, will buy has bought an app, sooner or later. In fact, it is not a question of affordability at all. The real problem is not that people can’t afford apps. The real problem is with micro payments which hasn’t been cracked yet.

Millions of mobile phone users in India pay about Rs 30 (50 c) a month to set a caller tune. India’s top 3 telecom operators have made nearly $1.4 bn from caller tune services in the last three years alone. Not money enough?

People have started buying Facebook packs and Whatsapp packs and millions of data subscriptions are being sold.

This year alone, Indians are expected to buy 81 million smartphones. IDC projects a growth of 40% CAGR for the next 5 years. That is 10% of smartphone shipments worldwide and more than Germany’s population.

The average selling price of smartphones in India is a little less than $120, well below the global average of $250. But hey, we make up for it by volumes.

The fact remains that millions of people are shelling out $120 to buy a smartphone. As the caller tune example proves, if it is useful (or fun) enough, people will pay.

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