What are the most popular apps among Nigerians? Apps that you would find on virtually everyone smartphone. I did a quick manual scan of local app stores for the 3 major platforms and this is what I found:

Top free

Android – WhatsApp, BBM, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, 2go, Opera Mini, Instagram

Windows Phone – WhatsApp, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Ancient Zuma, KJV Study Bible, UC Browser, Instagram Beta, Skype

iOS – BBM, Whatsapp, Instagram, Google Maps, Facebook, Skype, Twitter.

 Top Paid

Android – Minecraft, Swiftkey, Poweramp, Nova Launcher Prime, Titanium Backup, Need for speed, Tunein Pro

Windows Phone – WP Themes, Anti Virus, Video Player, Anti-Theft, Lumia Amber Update, Flashlight, Walkman

iOS – App icons, iDownloader Pro, Open Heavens, Nollywood Movies, Prince of Persia, Afterlight Photo Editor, Erotic stories about love and sex

 Top Grossing (Highest In-App purchases)

Android – Clash of Clans, Candy Crush Saga, Crime City, Subway Surfers, Farm Heroes Saga, Pastor Chris Digital library, Hay Day,

iOS – Candy Crush Saga, Skype, Zynga Poker, Subway Surfers, CSR Classics, Top Eleven – be a football manager, Clash of Clans

Apparently, Nigerian-built apps, or apps targeted primarily at Nigerians, are hardly popular. The only platform where Nigerian apps seem to be reasonably popular is Windows Phone, where about 5 Nigerian apps make top 20. This is just sad.

A few other observations:

  • Religious apps feature on basically every top list, and the only Nigerian-targeted apps to make top grossing are religious – Open Heavens on the App Store and Pastor Chris Digital Library on Android
  • 2go is still a big deal in Nigeria and anyone who dismisses this fact just chooses to be ignorant. In case you didn’t know, big brands like Heineken and OLX advertise on 2go.
  • Windows Phone app collection still evidently pales in comparison with the others. Just take a look at the top paid apps. Do any of them make sense to you?
  • Android users in Nigeria must really love tweaking their phones. 70% of paid Android apps are tweaking apps

I can understand why the bulk of the top free apps are not Nigerian. When you have to compete against the likes of Whatsapp, Facebook and BBM, you really have no chance. What I can’t come to terms with is the under-representation of of Nigerians apps on the top grossing list.

About 90% of top grossing apps are free games. This means Nigerians are not unlike many others users around the world. We also like to download games for free and we apparently don’t mind in-app purchases. So why have our developers not tapped into this?  Simple, the payment structures on ground make in-app monetization a nightmare. The Play and App store won’t even allow developers from Nigeria monetize their apps. That means none of your favourite free games by Nigerians is actually making any money. So while it’s probably cooler to have your apps and games first on Android or iOS, the reality is that publishing on those platforms don’t pay the bills.

This is why I believe Nigerian developers should start paying more attention to Windows Phone. Not just because of the raging void of apps that needs to be filled, but also because it is probably the best platform to monetize right now, with operator-based in-app payment system is coming soon to Nigeria. Nokia Microsoft Mobile says they already have deals with the four major networks,  that will allow developers charge in-app purchases directly to users’ airtime balance. As far as Nigeria is concerned, that is a big deal.

Photo credit: Techcrunch

Muyiwa Matuluko Author

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