This just in: Asian mobile app market exploding

This just in:  Asian mobile app market exploding

“When China awakens, the world will tremble.”  Napoleon Bonaparte’s (alleged) 200 year-old prophecy has been coming true for some time now, as China’s workforce hundreds of millions strong does its best to ignore the ideology of the state while pursuing the creature comforts of middle-class living.  In the digital age, this translates to an explosion in the mobile app market, and according to the most recent Distimo report, China is bringing the rest of Asia along with it.  Here are the key findings of the report:

  • China is now the second largest app market, after the U.S. The growth rate for mobile app consumption in China has surpassed Europe, but it’s nevertheless worth noting that those apps with the broadest appeal to the Chinese are localized.  In practical terms, this means developers hoping to penetrate the Chinese market should offer translations and, if such a thing exists, a uniquely Chinese “feel” to the apps they hope to distribute there.
  • China is not alone.  The app market in other Asian countries is also expanding rapidly.  India and Thailand, for example, have grown 27% and 40%, respectively.
  • South Korea represents the most “remarkable” app market.  In a country where the national pastime is a video game (don’t laugh; it regularly draws more spectators than the Super Bowl), and the first country to install nationwide WiMax, it’s no surprise that mobile apps do well there.  Curiously, however, the games category is absent from the iPhone app store in Korea, making South Korea what Distimo calls “a particularly interesting country for non-Games publishers and developers to target.”
  • Monetization is still an issue. According to the Distimo report, one-off purchase and in-app purchase models still seem to be struggling in the Asian market.  This will likely require some sleight-of-hand on the part of developers hoping to penetrate the Asian market, and perhaps consider switching to advertising or freemium models.

Given so many hundreds of thousands of apps available in the various stores, and given the increasingly discerning consumer base in the more established app markets, Asia might very well represent the Next Big Thing for app developers.  Time will only tell what effect this might have on the industry, but it’s a fair bet that effect will be substantial.


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