Mobile App Development

Emerging App Markets: Where Should App Developers Focus?

Emerging App Markets: Where Should App Developers Focus?

Nations are getting technologically savvy and governments across the globe are focussing on providing better infrastructure for better connectivity. So which are the nations that are reaching the saturation point as far as their app markets are concerned? Which are the emerging app markets that emerging app developers and publishers should focus on? Let’s find out.

According to an App Annie report, there are several key app markets emerging from all parts of the world. App publishers are taking advantage of the fact that the apps are borderless. This fact can be leveraged to get a foothold into new markets by entrepreneurs and marketers.

App download growth in  BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India, and China rose impressively year over year in 2015 overshadowing the growth of the most developed app markets that comprised of USA, UK, Germany, Japan, South Korea. Download growth in Brazil, Russia, India and China grew approximately at the rate of 80% year on year growth in combined iOS and Google Play downloads.


Developed app markets in USA, UK, Germany, Japan and South Korea dominate the revenue charts of app stores. The users in these countries are not hesitant at shelling out money for the apps they download.  Many app publishers noticed the markets of Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey. These nations now have better infrastructure, huge populations and ever rising penetration of smartphone which has been responsible for both iOS and Android app downloads in good numbers.

Advantage BRIC Markets

BRIC markets always had the advantage of the numbers. Nearly half of the world’s population lives in BRIC nations. BRIC countries collectively downloaded 30% share of all of the downloads in the world. App publishers had a good run in these nations in 2015.

China is the undisputed powerhouse in the global app economy. It scored impressively on the app download front. After being no. 2 in iOS downloads for a while behind the US, China’s iOS quarterly downloads grew 30% between Q1 2014 and Q1 2015 and it snagged the top position from the US and became the biggest market for iOS by downloads. By iOS revenue, China remains its third largest market, the 1st spot is currently occupied by US and Japan holds the 2nd spot. Experts expect China to overtake Japan soon and claim the second spot by the virtue of being the second country in terms of iOS revenue generation. China thus remains a very important market for Apple. Besides Game apps, ‘Alipay’, online payment solution app and other tool based apps like ‘360 Security’ are popular in China.


Brazil saw app adoption in heavy numbers. As a country, Brazil’s economy is poised at a very interesting point. The Government is pumping money in building better infrastructure and better connectivity. The app economy is thriving because of the value it provides. There is great potential for app publishers to explore the possibilities and grow. Brazil is fond of its chat, dating and messaging apps. ‘Messenger’, ‘Whatsapp Messenger’, ‘Tinder’, ‘Line’, ‘Happn’, ‘Snapchat’ and tool and utility based apps like ‘Bring Go’, ‘Afterlight’ and ‘Cameringo’ besides ‘OLX Brazil’ are doing well in Brazil.

India has been cruising well and has several impressive e-commerce success stories like ‘Snapdeal’ and ‘Flipkart’ that constitute the app economy. The market continues to expand and it has several e-commerce companies that are well funded and well positioned for revenue growth. Besides chat and dating apps there are games, utilities, tool apps and taxi apps like ‘Uber’, ‘Ola’ and others in the space. India will be a happy hunting ground for app entrepreneurs, investors, and publishers in 2016.

Russian app market, however, seems a little sluggish when year on year growth in app downloads was compared. Games like Clash of Kings, Game of War, Minecraft,  Trivia cracks, Shopping app like ‘Ali Express, tools, utility and banking apps are popular. We can thus expect the app markets to continue growing in India, Brazil and China in 2016 too.

Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey: App Markets that held attention in 2015

Mexicans are spending more and more time on their smartphones. From 2014 to 2015 Mexicans grew their exports. The economy improved and there were more jobs. Consumer spending increased and app downloads, app revenue, and app engagement increased. There are more devices in Mexico now. It remains a big market for app publishers. There was rapid smartphone adoption in Turkey. Demand for digital content is increasing. Apps that can provide that will do well. Indonesia’s app downloads grew by 40%. There is renewed interest in Indonesia. Technology and hardware investors are eyeing Indonesian markets. Mexico has games apps, messenger apps and interesting apps like ‘YouCam’ a makeup app and ‘MSQRD’ a live filter photo app.

Mobile customer base in these three countries is increasing. 85% of downloads in Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey were from Google Play in 2015. Games topped the categories, followed by useful tools. Utility apps like ‘CM Security’, ‘Clean Master’ and ‘360 Mobile Security’ were popular downloads. There is space in m-commerce segment. Mobile transaction fuelled growth is seen in Indonesia. Apps like ‘Tokopedia’ and ‘Bulalapak’ did well in 2015. In Turkey ‘’ app is incredibly successful and reported heavy mobile traffic.

Thailand, Vietnam, Argentina and Egypt: New Frontiers

Thailand is on the growth path for sure. Fuelled by its Government’s push for better infrastructure and better facilities, Thailand now boasts of good mobile connectivity and impressive smartphone penetration. It has greater acceptability of Japanese apps. Thailand is a key market for Japanese app ‘Line’. Besides tools, utilities, and games, Photo apps remain a big part of Thailand’s app economy. Along with ‘Line’ other app publishers like ‘Meitu’, ‘Fotoable’, ‘PinGuo’ and ‘Cheetah Mobile’ are seeing a good number of downloads and revenue. Thailand is heading towards 50% penetration. The year 2016 will see an expansion of 4G network. All this makes Thailand an exciting place for app publishers.

Vietnam has a good infrastructure and big consumer spending power. Its economy is in good shape. Data from the year 2015 shows increased mobile data consumption, increased downloads and increased revenue. Vietnam’s scorching hot growth in app economy was reflected in country’s game downloads. 50% share of games downloads in 2015 from both Google Play and iOS was from Vietnam. Revenue from games downloads was also impressive. The country also has a healthy and thriving local app developer community. VNG was the publisher of country’s top messaging app ‘Zalo’. VNG had a successful run with game apps. According to some estimates, Vietnam’s m-commerce category has the potential to grow at the rate of 200% per year. Currently, local and regional players like ‘Gioi Di Dong’, ‘Cho Tot Vn’, ‘Sendo’, ‘Lazada’ and ‘Shopee’ are in the fray.

Related: 6 Trends That Will Shape Mobile App Development Landscape in 2016

Argentina is a small country compared to Brazil but it has a higher smartphone penetration than its neighbor. There have been consistent improvements in infrastructure and mobile connectivity. There has been a 60% growth in data consumption per active user in the year-long span from December 2014 to December 2015- which is very impressive. Its app landscape has games, messaging and dating apps where ‘happn’ is challenging ‘Tinder’, and  Etermax’s ‘Trivia Crack’ was at the top for months after initial hiccups. Etermax buoyed by the success went on to conquer other countries. Argentina is primed for a good app economy growth.

Egypt adopted smartphones quickly and Egyptian downloads were basically focussed on tools and utilities. Chinese app publishers like Qihoo 360, Baidu, Holaverse, and Cheeta Mobile. There are several messaging apps which are popular like ‘Facebook Messenger’, ‘Whatsapp Messenger’, ‘Line’ ‘Imo’ and ‘Viber’. Budding e-commerce category has potential to grow. It has OpenSooq,, and Jumia in this space. Foreign e-commerce giants are assessing the situation.

Wrapping Up:

Every market has its own challenges. There are mature markets and then there are emerging markets. The growth of App economy depends on emerging app markets which come with their own challenges. Infrastructure is still in developing stage and there isn’t quality connectivity. App publishers would do best to keep these factors in mind. They need to build Lite versions of their heavy apps for emerging markets. Ensure that the apps work even when there is poor connectivity.

Localization will be challenging and will require efforts. It is a very important factor. App development companies who are planning on expanding to new – foreign markets will need to slowly develop key alliances and a friendly ecosystem for their apps to have a good fighting chance to survive in emerging markets. They would do well to focus on providing value. Each country and region evolve differently and one needs to have the understanding of the different stages of evolving markets to time the process of app publishing well so that the app publishers are able to ride the app wave safely and successfully.

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