Both Apple’s and Google’s digital application stores have seen massive growth in developing markets over the last year. India and China were the primary growth areas in both revenue and number of downloaded apps.
Analytics firm App Annie claims that India has surpassed the US and Brazil and is now the country with the most app downloads from the Play store. According to the BBC, India was deemed to be the second largest smartphone market in 2016, based on the number of people with mobile subscriptions, despite the fact smartphone penetration in the country is still only 30%.
The Indian app market is also credited with being slightly different than other developing regions, due to a higher focus on shopping and social media apps, rather than games, which are the more traditional top-downloaded types of apps. Paul Barnes from App Annie explained:
An Indian smartphone user has more shopping apps on their phone than a UK user. Social and messaging apps have been exceptionally popular - WhatsApp in particular is one of the most widely used apps in the country. This has created a fairly unique app market in India, where gaming is slightly less dominant than we've seen in other emerging markets, such as China.
Meanwhile Apple saw China become the biggest source of revenue in its App Store during these past 12 months, according to App Annie. However, the BBC says that Apple’s own internal figures contradict this assessment and that China may still lag behind the US or Japan in this department.
Still, Apple’s overall revenue increase in the market isn’t in doubt, with both the App Store and Play store seeing large growth fueled by developing markets.
Despite Apple’s small marketshare in both the Chinese and Indian markets, the company managed to dominate revenues in China thanks to the absence of Google's Play in that market. On the flip side, Apple has had trouble penetrating the Indian market, where Google has a much stronger foothold.
The importance of such developing markets is expected to continue to grow given that so many people are just now connecting to the internet and the modern app ecosystems for the first time.