writes copy 26 Dec 2017

7 questions you must ask when building a product for a billion users

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What better way to move to a New Year than to take a few good learnings from the last one. Here  Deepak Abbot,  who has  years of experience in growth hacking, mobile marketing,  and data analytics,  asks  which digital product will be the first to cross the half-a-billion mark in India? Here's his answer. Last year, India added 100 million new users to the internet. It's the most expeditious growing internet market in the world with a potential to add another 200 million first-time users in the next three years. India is expected to cross 600 million internet users by 2020 making it the second biggest connected country in the world. Roughly 60 percent of urban India is connected while less than 20 percent of the rural population has access to the internet. India is expected to see next surge of Internet users to come from rural India predominantly. It is important to internalise these data points when building for India. Address the questions below and understand the vital links to billion Indians: Is it affordable? ROI? Product built for mass markets should be massively affordable. Affordability does not always relate to paying an upfront fee, it could be a direct cost like paying for an advanced service or an indirect cost or an operating cost. Is it compatible? There are thousands of device and OS combinations especially in a large market like India. There are still 10 percent devices running Android 4 or below which was originally released in 2012. Most budget phones in India sold today are on OS version released three years ago. On top of this, we have patchy cellular data connections as we go deep into the country. Plus, India is a harsh country with heat, dust, pollution, hygiene issues that may have an impact on how your product is adopted under such circumstances. [caption id="attachment_317123" align="aligncenter" width="800"] Does your product have a universal appeal?[/caption] Does it have a cultural fitment? Demographic fit? It's important to understand your users' taste, desires, affinities, religious beliefs, moral values,  and customs. A product made for billion users needs to be either away from any cultural bias or adapt it suitably. Hotstar used cricket perfectly for its growth. A product that works equally well for women and the elderly and is adapted by them in equal measure will have a wider appeal. Language should not be a barrier to use the product. Is it credible, secure and reliable? Brands, services, and platforms need to assure their users with their support, service, and overall credibility. It should be a reliable solution under all circumstances, which is not only secure but also makes users feel safe. That would be an important criterion. Will it replace a habit? Products which can alter old habits are fundamentally bound to be big. It can only be habit-forming if it is used more than once. Prolonged use should make it even more useful. For example, my mother spends more time on YouTube than TV now as she discovers more relevant videos. She prefers it because it is on-demand and portable. Will it make me feel special? Is it cool? We love to brag and like to feel special considering most of us get any validations from the world at large. We all have a varying degree of narcissism in us and if any product can meet this expectation, can win the game. Instagram thrived on this. Does it require a learning curve? Is it easy to onboard?  Can a user understand the product in a few words? Do you need to create videos, FAQs, or tutorials for your product? If yes, then you may not be ready yet. Is it usable? Remember, usability is extremely important for survival,  let alone success. Now think of some successful products in India namely, WhatsApp, Facebook, Youtube, Amazon, Paytm*, Hotstar, Instagram, ShareIt, Flipkart, Uber, Ola and rate them from 1-10 on the above parameters. You will understand their potential based on the score you arrive at:
Points Scored Potential Reach
15-20 50mn
21 to 35 100mn
36 to 50 200mn
51 to 65 300mn
> 65 500mn '“ 1bn
All the above principles will apply if you have built a fundamentally good product that is useful, innovative, scalable and flexible with attention to detailing given in every aspect.
India offers an opportunity like no other. We are lucky to be in India building for this massive market. So which digital product would be the first to cross half-a-billion mark in India? I would like to see a Made in India product there.
(Do share your feedback with me at dabbot@gmail.com or tag me on Twitter at twitter.com/deepakabbot) *I work for Paytm.

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