I was looking at some stats on growth of consumer social and mobile platforms between 2008 and now. Even though it's an obvious point, the contrast is quite stark and shows how much the world has changed in a short time. It's almost hard to imagine a world where Facebook was a startup much smaller than it is today, LinkedIn and Twitter had very small user bases and iOS and Android each had less than 10M users. But this was the case in early 2008.
While all these above-mentioned platforms or quasi-platforms (and others I have not mentioned) have impacted startups in the US and Europe, I think Facebook and Android are the real game-changers in India as opposed to LinkedIn, Twitter or iOS.
Why Facebook and Android in India? Here's why: When I think of consumer platforms (a much abused term), I think of a few criteria:
- a large, engaged and fast-growing audience (100M+ users)
- a developer friendly culture and technology base
- a monetization vehicle that is providing enough return to developers for their time
In my opinion, three platforms stand out today and meet this criteria - Facebook, iOS and Android - in many parts of the world. However, they all fall down in India when it comes to #3 (monetization) and (for now) #1 (audience size). I have no doubt these platforms will get to the right audience sizes in India in the next 12-24 months - Facebook claims ~50M users and Android has <10M in India. In the meantime, Google reigns supreme for reaching users.
So, the upshot is that now is the time to start companies leveraging these platforms in India.