The online lifestyle in Iran


We live online for a major part of our lives these days. However, we have a particular lifestyle with different norms, rules, and habits in this parallel world than the real world. I’ve wrote about the rules in Iranian online governance shortly before in a post specified for social freedom. This post is not going to be that much politicized or critical, though.

The first mobile phone that I touched, was my father’s and it was around the year 2000. At that time not so many people had their own mobile phones. About three years later, I connected to the WWW on home dial-up, heard the words like Google and Yahoo, and created my first email. When I was still in my high school years, about fifteen years ago, I bought my first mobile and SIM card. It was a Nokia N72. I enjoyed the Symbian OS and Java applications and games and took my own pictures making visual memories for myself since my school times. Connecting to the Internet on phone was first incredible to me when we bought a wireless router for our home ADSL. Since 2014 we connected outdoors through the 3G technology on the two main national phone operators. Now about 70 percent of the Iranian population has access to the Internet (Here) and 54 percent use their own smartphones (Here) (Mobile phone subscriptions exceed 100 percent).

What are some most-used applications in Iran

The online digital economy is still infant, however, growing very fast in Iran. Many VCs, accelerators, and startups are investing to change ways the needs are satisfied by developing local Android and iOS applications. Let me introduce some of the most used Android applications in Iran. It may reflect better how we live online.

Persian actors and actresses are the top influencers on Instagram -the leading Android application in Iran. Fun and entertainment, what people spend most of their time when online.
  1. Instagram. Maybe it’s at the top of the list regarding the number of users and the time spent on with about 40 million active users. It’s used mostly for fun and entertainment but also for social activism and business. The most-followed Instagram pages are owned by popular actors and actresses (hassan_reyvandi, the Persian comedian, is the first with about 14M followers). After filtering Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram, Instagram and Whatsapp became the dominant social network platforms in Iran.
  2. WhatsApp (and Bale). Iranians usually have their Whatsapp social groups in family, work, school, etc. After the Telegram, a couple of Iranian platforms struggled to replace that among which, only Bale could capture up to 6 million users or so. Bale is owned by the Iran National Bank (Bank-e Melli) and offers financial and payment services through social networks.
  3. Bazaar. This is the dominant application store in Iran -with about 40 million users as stated by itself- providing many Persian apps without the bothering limitations of Google Play and Appstore including the restrictions to Iranian developers due to the American sanctions.
  4. Waze. This is the most serious competitor to Google Maps in Iran, as Google does not currently provide full navigation services in the country. Recently, strong Iranian providers have also entered the competition like Balad and Neshan which are well adapted to the street names and locations and provide guidance for public transportation.
  5. Snapp. This application started with a cheap online taxi platform service about three years ago and expanded its network all through the country very soon. After a while, it changed into a comprehensive app that provides various services. In Snapp food, order your meal from many restaurants and order for supermarket goods (Snapp food). In Snapp trip, buy your plane, train, and bus ticket and book for economic accommodation. Charging your SIM card, playing games, and donating are other options.
  6. Bade Saba. This app is installed on millions of Iranians’ phones for the Jalali calendar organization and events and also scheduling for the prayer times. However, it’s recently extending its services to shopping, weather forecasts, etc.
  7. Banking and payment apps. All the Iranian banks are providing online services through internet and mobile banking applications and they are getting more and more widespread. Also, there are popular payment services such as Asan Pardakht (AP) and *780# with about 11 million active users.
  8. Divar and Sheypoor. These are customer-to-customer sales platforms with millions of users.
  9. VPNs. More than a few people are using filtered applications -esp. Telegram- on their phones, so they need various VPN applications installed on their phones.

Read more:

The new digital economy in Iran

What are the most visited websites in Iran according to Alexa?

Although we live most of our online life inside our smartphones, many still prefer visiting websites for finding their contents and services. Now let’s take a look at some Top Alexa websites in Iran to learn more about their preferences:

  1. As it may be guessed easily!
  2. The online video upload platform (Read more)
  3. The largest online shopping website in Iran.
  4. Popular daily life contents
  5. The official online payment platform used by all the banks
  6. News and reports about sports, esp. soccer matches.
  7. The largest online stock trading platform. It’s now in the top list due to the current unprecedented growth in Tehran Stock Exchange, however, it may not be always in the top list. Numbers 8 to 10 in Alexa ranking are also in the same category.
  10. Online film-watching platform (Read more)

Find more insights about the Iranian digital market in the latest report for September 2019:

The interactive version in Persian:


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