It’s worth noting that during the great Klondike Gold Rush (1896-1899) that the most financial success was enjoyed by those who sold the picks, pans, and pots. With the mobile app gold rush happening, and it’s always worth keeping in mind who’s cashing in, where, why, and how.
Hearing the cry “there’s gold in them thar hills,” we figured it’s worth looking at Asia’s exploding market for mobile apps and how to succeed there. As massive as the continent is, so is the topic. This is part one of our two part look at the landscape, and a what to keep in mind as you consider launching your apps into this market.
Yes, there’s gold to be struck.
According to Distimo (Asia: The Leading App Market in the World - January 2014 ) Asia is the most lucrative app market in the world.
41 percent of the total revenue globally in December 2013 came from Asia.
North America generated 31 percent and Europe 23 percent.
Revenue in Asia increased by 162 percent year-over-year (December 2012 to December 2013),
North America’s revenue grew by 46 percent in the same time period
They also noted that freemium is the leading business model in Asia.
Ernst & Young reports that China’s wireline and wireless network infrastructure is quickly expanding and modernizing. China has one billion mobile subscribers — three times that of the US. A growing number of Chinese mobile subscribers are using their devices to access the internet.
In the first quarter of 2012, China had 431 million mobile internet users. That number is expected to reach 632 million by 2016.
The number of smartphone users in China is expected to reach 238 million by the end of 2012, up from 87 million in 2010.
By 2015, the number of smartphone users will reach 449 million and comprise 40% of the total mobile phone subscriptions in the country.
China alone presents very large pool of opportunity, but factoring in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the rest of Asia where mobile is prevalent and becoming more pervasive, it important to understand localization challenges. These are distinct markets and need to be marketed to accordingly.
Here are some cultural differences to consider.
Again the Distimo article highlights that in the United States, between 25 to 32 percent of apps were locally popular. In Asia, Singapore had the lowest proportion of locally popular apps (between 10 and 13 percent), while Japan had the highest proportion (60 percent 72 percent). The proportion of locally popular apps is directly correlated with specific languages and alphabets for some Asian countries, as well as developers investing in the localization of their apps on the leading platforms. In South Korea, the popular platform Kakao has a lot of Kakao-dedicated apps, while in Japan, the LINE platform is extremely popular.
Asia, localization is also segmented by country. iPhone users in China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have a preference for applications aimed at the region. In China for example, 65% of the 300 most popular free applications are regionally popular only. In South Korea, 87% of free and 78% of paid applications are regionally aimed, respectively.
A Quartz article share some useful insights, reporting that companies from outside China represent just 1 in 10 of the most downloaded apps (i.e., Google Maps). But games are a completely different story, with 7 of 10 game apps coming from outside China, and primarily US development studios.
It’s important to note that all of these games have been localized to the Chinese market, with translated text and menus, at the least. And those who know this market are urging developers to go even further, localizing themes, characters and even game-play to suit Chinese tastes.
Android is massive
Asia is a different landscape than what’s seen in North America and Europe. Revenue in Asia is more evenly distributed between the Apple App Store and Google Play, whereas Apple’s App Store generates most of the revenue in North America and Europe.
Distimo also notes that China’s Android landscape is different from the rest of the world. Only 3.5 percent of devices in China have Google Play services installed, which is required in order to run Google Play and other Google apps. Wandoujia is a mobile content search engine for Android, where the largest content vertical is apps. The company started in 2010. Now it has more than 300 million users.
Part II of the Asia app landscape profile will look at piracy and IP protection, the hurdles you can plan on encountering, and some of the winners.