I, generally, don’t respond to ads. But it’s not everyday that you see Ranbir Kapoor in an app ad. Why is that so interesting? My day job is in the app industry and it’s good to see someone can foot the ad bill. India is just opening up to the mobile market and I think better times will come once the market matures.
Anyway, the Askme app is available only on Android currently. And, as you may know, I have a Nokia Lumia. I keep mentioning that all the photographs on this blog are taken with a 820. So, I grabbed a testing phone from the office, downloaded the app and took it for a ride.
Now, before we go to the app, let us understand what Askme is trying to do is quite brave or naïve, whichever way you see it. Traditionally, apps have been reproductions of websites or have been trying to duplicate the functions. Lately, the industry has matured and native mobile apps have come up. These are apps that are unique to the mobile platform and have no web presence, for example, Snapchat and Instagram. People also prefer apps that specialize in any single function, one to take notes, another to chat, one to share photos, another to share text etc.
So, you understand, Askme has taken up the challenge by clubbing many functions into one app. Searching outlets, reading and posting reviews and buying and selling products too. It will be interesting to see how people react to the app, but it has more than a lakh installs already. I don’t have the exact number and someone inside must be tracking the current installs graph very intently.
The app has got many things right, it has a simplistic interface. It has a white background that works with content rich apps and even though it can do multiple things, the navigation is not all that complicated.
The search feature works by GPS to pick up your location or you can input any other location in the field. Given that they must have had access to Getit’s database, their search results are well popoulated. Secondary data still needs to be filled in many cases. Anway, in the search result page, there is a slider button to call the merchant directly and that, probably, is what I loved most about the app. There are also the whole gamut of user genereated content and social features. So, you can read and write reviews, share merchant details via sms, email Facebook and Twitter etc.
They have the same form to post an ad or a classified. Being the same click-and-sell market as OLX and Quikr, it takes just 2 steps to start selling a product. I tested the process a few times, there may be small glitches on a few devices. It’s not the best case scenario, but quite common in the app world. Hopefully, they will have an update soon to sort the minor issues.
The most standout feature of the app is the marketplace. It is a bold attempt to integrate shopping into a mobile app. Because, remember, it is not a mobile app in the way Flipkart or OLX app is. There is no web interface for the app, all its functionalities are native to mobile. Anyway, in the marketplace, it is easy to search and browse and it takes a sign up form if you are a first time shopper.
Now that the basics are done, I guess they will just wait to achieve critical mass. Of course, they have a lot of bugs to fix and I hope a version upgrade is on the way soon. They have more than a lakh downloads already and it will be interesting to see what happens next.