18 October 2020

Top 10 Bhutanese Mobile Apps 2020

This has been something I wanted to do for a long time; to assess Bhutanese Mobile Apps and make a Top 10 list. I wanted to measure the apps based on the tangibles such as the number of downloads, users and reviews. But when I actually began working on it I realized that if I were to base my list entirely on the tangibles then there is no input from my side. I found it important to grade the apps based on the usefulness and user-friendliness. Since it's my list I want to judge the apps based on how useful they were to me. 

Top 10 Bhutanese Apps

After the list was made I found out that only two apps of the 10 are strictly private, rest are all institutional and government service apps. His Majesty the King shared a story about how Instagram, with just 13 employees was bought by Facebook for $ 1 Billion in 2012, which was way more USD than Bhutan had saved since the reign of the Third King. Since hearing that powerful speech I have been showing an extra interest in apps because I feel the only equitable chance we have at doing something big in the world would be a made in Bhutan application. It's worth creating a national think tank and making a big investment. 

For now, all top ten apps combined + Druk Trace app doesn't total up to a million download. 

Following are the top ten made in Bhutan apps on my list;

1. mBOB (100,000+)

mBOB

It is the official mobile banking app of Bank of Bhutan. The app has literally put banking on our palm. Until recently BOB deducted Nu.10 every month from the mBOB users, which was sharply criticized. I didn't mind the small fee because of all the conveniences it offered; Mobile recharge, Mobile payment, Money Transfer, Bill Payments, etc.  Since installing the app some years ago I have never bought a single paper voucher or went physically to pay the electric bill or house rent. 

There are similar apps by other banks, such as MPay, TPay, ePay etc. which may be as useful but since I personally benefited from mBOB alone I chose mBOB. 

DDC Dictionary

2. DDC Dictionary (1000+)

It's a bilingual Dzongkha - English Dictionary app from G2C Bhutan. The app is quite handy in confirming Dzongkha spellings and meanings. It has come to my rescue every time I help my daughter with her Dzongkha works. I think the developer has uploaded an entirely new version instead of updating the original app because it should have more than 1000 downloads it has recorded. 

Druk Zakar

3. Druk Zakar (100,000+)


The Druk Zakar App from Dratshang Lhentsho provides a 12-month day-to-day astrological calendar based on the Bhutanese lunar year. As Bhutanese, we are believers of tag da tendrel (Auspicious signs) before starting a new venture or a long journey or making major decisions in life. Traditionally, we had to go to an astrologer for a consultation but with this app, we could be astrologers ourselves. This may have disappointed the astrologers but for the rest of us, it was a blessing. 
B-Trowa

4. B-Trowa (10,000+)

It's a TV and Radio streaming app from Bhutan Telecom. The only reason this app is on my list is that it streams BBS TV live for free without requiring to register. I feel that this must be the app that's keeping fellow Bhutanese living and working abroad in touch with their homeland. 
Azha Pasa

5. Azha Pasa (10,000+)


It's an eCommerce app with the vision to expand to delivering skills and services but for now they have made their mark by delivering vegetables, LPG and providing garbage pickup services. I have used the app several times to refill LPG cylinders and it's amazing that they charge just Nu.100 for their service. For that cost, we don't even get a cab ride from home to town forget about getting a heavy cylinder delivered home. I have also used the app to get vegetable delivery during the lockdown, which has made me forever grateful to the app. 
Druk Ride

6. Druk Ride (1000+)

Druk Ride is a taxi and bus ticket booking app. It's an app whose time has really come in Bhutan but I am yet to see the real success of the app. Initially, there were three taxi apps but only Druk Ride survived because the market is just too small and awareness on the smart technology is way too less, especially among the cab drivers. I have used the app to book bus tickets to Pling and I was really impressed. I only wished if Haa Bus tickets could be booked on this app. 
POL Depo App

7. POL Depo (10,000+)


This app is from the Department of Trade to facilitate the issue of the coupons for LPG and Kerosene, In pursuit of Improving Public Service Delivery. If you don't have this app you have to visit DoT physically to get the coupons and then head to the Fuel pumps to get LPG or Kerosene. Strangely, you can't just download and use the app right away, like many services in Bhutan, you have to visit DoT physically to get the app registered. 


mRSTA

8. mRSTA (10,000+)

This app built by RSTA gives access to Information related to Driver License and Vehicle Registration of an individual and facilitates services like the renewal of both the documents, which otherwise require us to visit the office physically. The app though poorly branded (both the name and the logo) has really good features. Very soon we may not need printed license or registration documents as long as we carry a phone with this app on.



9. eTeeru (50,000+)

This mobile financial app from Tashi Cell is perhaps the best-marketed app but it has more than a few shortcomings; first, it came into the market too late. There are over five banking apps that are giving the same services eTeeru is offering. Second, it is only for the TCell subscribers which leave the majority of the population out because more Bhutanese use bMobile, including me. If it could be registered using bMobile number I could have at least tried because I have seen so many shops with eTeeru QR code ready to be used but seemingly no users because for now, everyone is happy with mBOB. But if they could maintain the pace of promotion and make necessary changes, I can see it replace all the banking apps, especially on the shopping front. 
Bhutanese Bloggers

10. Bhutanese Bloggers (1000+)

This app features the latest blog posts from the community of Bhutanese bloggers. It was designed to create a platform for every blogger to enjoy equal readership, but since the developer doesn't live in Bhutan anymore, it's really difficult to update the list of bloggers. Without a functioning association, we don't have a dedicated team to look after the app. We may revive it soon. Yes, I am involved in this. 


This is the end of the top 10 list but while talking about the Bhutanese apps, let me draw your attention to the most important app at the moment;
______________________________________

11. Druk Trace (100,000+) 

Druk Trace is designed by G2C for contact tracing during the pandemic. I am sure this is the most downloaded app in Bhutan and I hope you have it on your phone. Having the app on your device is not enough, you must use it wherever you go. I hope someday when all this is over, we can make good use of this app and the data. 

Perhaps we could upgrade this to the national chat platform, Sungjoen App the government envisioned. 

Druk Trace



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