Mobile apps are designed to deliver convenience, but for users with limited storage, RAM and battery life, they can create the exact opposite. That’s the challenge mobile platforms face in markets like India, where the average phone has eight to 16 gigabytes of space on it — barely enough to hold photos and music, let alone all the apps a person might want to use.
What typically happens is users download the app they need at the moment when they need it. Then, after they’ve called their cab or ordered their dinner, they delete it again to clear up space. That means mobile platforms are seeing poor retention rates, and they’re unable to push any notifications to users regarding deals and promotions.
This is the problem Sajel Saxena, OneLabs, said the company aims to solve with its inOne App, which bundles 50 applications into one. Doing so, said Saxena, enables users to download and keep a single app that gives them access to the functions of 50 while using only about 100 megabytes of space.
Saxena explained it’s the user interface that eats up so much space for most apps. Brands put a lot of work into the graphics and visual experiences of their apps, but those things aren’t needed for functionality, he said.
For example, Uber users don’t need to see pictures of the type of car and the driver and a live progress map. Those features are nice to have, but the platform can still call a ride and pay for it without any of those frills, Saxena said. Within the inOne App, users encounter only a single, graphics-free map and still manage to get from point A to point B.
Brands invest a lot in their image, so it may feel like a big sacrifice to give up that attractive, hard-built user interface, but in a market like India, Saxena said it’s the difference between engaging with customers or simply waiting for them to come to you.
What’s in It for the Apps
Saxena said offering stripped-down versions of apps in a bundle delivers engagement and retention that platforms can’t get anywhere else, including the opportunity to serve occasional offers to consumers.
However, Saxena said it’s important to be careful about which deals make it through to the customer. Not all participating apps can be allowed to serve offers on the same day or users would be overwhelmed with notifications.
In OneLabs’ case, the system uses analytics to see which people are using which features and serve them only relevant offers, which he said undergo some manual review as well.
What’s in It for the Aggregator
OneLabs takes home a portion of all sales generated for partner platforms; that’s how the business earns its keep, said Saxena. The connected apps pay the company a commission of 5 percent to 10 percent for any traffic inOne App drives to their brand.
Customers can pay for many of the connected services directly through the inOne App using a credit or debit card, internet banking, a Unified Payments Interface or an eWallet such as PayPal — India’s five standardized options, which are what most of the apps within the inOne platform accept. OneLabs then forwards the payment to its partner platform, taking a small commission along the way.
Alternately, Saxena said that in some cases, users are redirected to the brand’s mobile webpage to complete their payment. In that case, OneLabs tracks the redirect to ensure it receives a commission.
Saxena said OneLabs is working on an artificial intelligence (AI) to assist users in booking services from the platform. Today, customers have the ability to view and compare different prices from competitor platforms that offer similar services, such as rides or meal delivery.
With the AI, Saxena said, the assistant could find the best deal for the customer upon hearing a simple command such as, “Order me a pizza” or “Book me a cab home.”
That will become increasingly important as inOne App scales to encompass new partners beyond its current roster of 50. Saxena said the company is working on a system for new apps to add themselves to the platform by providing their APIs, rather than OneLabs having to ask companies to provide that code.
When that happens, users will need even more help navigating the many options contained in the platform — bringing mobile apps back to their core function of delivering convenience.