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The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets

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Our report, The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets, investigates questions about market growth within regions, what causing certain countries to grow, and which categories have the most untapped opportunities. If you’re looking to expand into new, high-growth markets or invest in the world’s next powerhouse app economies, this report is a must-read.

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The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets

  1. 1. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets     © App Annie 2016 | Do Not Distribute
  2. 2. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   Table of Contents 1. Introduction 2. The Forefront of Growth: BRIC Markets 3. The Next Wave: Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey 4. Future App Frontiers: Vietnam, Thailand, Egypt and Argentina ● Vietnam: A Gaming Giant in the Making ● Thailand: Infrastructure Developments Spur Future Growth ● Egypt: Apps Revel in Meteoric Smartphone Growth ● Argentina: A Rising Force in the Latin American App Economy 5. Succeeding in Emerging Markets USE RESTRICTIONS: The information, materials, data, images, graphics, and other components of this report ("Report") are copyrighted and owned or controlled by App Annie unless otherwise noted. Unauthorized use of the Report may violate copyright, trademark and/or other intellectual property rights of App Annie and may give rise to a claim for damages and/or be a criminal offense. The Report may not be modified, copied, distributed, republished, uploaded, posted, decompiled, or transmitted in any way, without the prior written consent of App Annie. © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 1
  3. 3. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   1. Introduction The global mobile app industry continues to grow and evolve as the advent of cheaper and better mobile devices connect new audiences. Publishers in an ever-widening range of sectors are recognizing the potential of apps to transform their industry, and are leveraging their borderless nature to tap into new markets. As a result, app economies in emerging markets continue to exhibit high growth rates despite the recent slowdown in the global economy. Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) have been instrumental in driving download growth for some time. This continued unabated in 2015 as the four markets together posted approximately 80% year over year growth in combined iOS and Google Play downloads. Meanwhile, rising smartphone penetration, improvements in infrastructure and huge populations also brought Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey into focus over the past year for many app publishers. Continued development and increasing competition are likely to have publishers looking for more opportunities in 2016; we believe Thailand, Vietnam, Argentina and Egypt are the top markets to watch from across the globe. App store revenue also continued to climb, and while developed markets such as the United States and Japan continue to dominate, Chinese-speaking markets (including © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 2
  4. 4. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) and Middle Eastern markets (including United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Qatar) showed considerable gains in 2015. This report outlines the trends in emerging markets throughout 2015 and explores opportunities for app publishers who are looking to expand into these markets. It highlights the continued growth and enormous potential of the BRIC markets, as well as reviewing the meteoric rise of Mexico, Turkey and Indonesia in 2015. Lastly, we take an in-depth look at each of the countries representing the next horizon of emerging markets spanning the key growth regions of Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East: Thailand, Vietnam, Argentina and Egypt. 2. The Forefront of Growth: BRIC Markets For years, the BRIC markets have been a focal point for investment. Home to nearly half of the world’s population, these markets remain among the fastest-growing in terms of mobile adoption. The mobile-first nature of internet access makes them highly attractive to app publishers seeking user base expansion and monetization opportunities for their apps. The mobile app industries in BRIC countries shined brightly in 2015. Combined, the BRIC countries held approximately 30% share of worldwide downloads last year. According to ​Store Intelligence​, China, India and Brazil in particular are showing no signs of slowing growth; we therefore expect them to remain at the forefront of worldwide app market growth in 2016. © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 3
  5. 5. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   China China remained the undisputed app powerhouse among developing markets. It continued to experience healthy growth in downloads, and last year overtook the US to become the ​world’s largest market by iOS downloads​. However, the bigger story lies with China’s revenue growth in 2015, which doubled from the previous year. China is currently the third-largest market by iOS revenue. However, many would bet it could surpass Japan to take second place behind the US in the not-too-distant future. With phenomenal growth in both downloads and revenue, China is an enticing prospect for publishers and investors in 2016. © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 4
  6. 6. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   India For many in the industry, however, India is the key market to watch in 2016. Not only does India have the ​brightest economic outlook​ ​o​f​ ​t​h​e​ ​B​R​I​C​ ​m​a​r​k​e​t​s​,​ but smartphone adoption is progressing rapidly with plenty of runway to grow. Its population is also young and increasingly mobile-savvy. All of these factors culminated in close to 50% growth in app downloads year over year. As a result, India’s mobile-first companies are thriving and ​attracting substantial venture funding​. Some of the biggest success stories can be found in ​India’s sensational mobile commerce growth​,​ resulting in c​o​n​s​i​d​e​r​a​b​l​e​ ​i​n​v​e​s​t​m​e​n​t​ ​f​o​r leading c​o​m​p​a​n​i​e​s​ ​s​u​c​h​ ​a​s​ ​F​l​i​p​k​a​r​t​ ​a​n​d​ ​S​n​a​p​d​e​a​l​. Such companies are well-positioned for revenue growth as the market continues to expand and may provide an indication of the types of successes that may arise as other emerging markets grow. Brazil Brazil is another market that saw heavy increases in app adoption, and its government is stoking investor interest by ​increasing spending to spur the economy​. Opportunities are abundant as smartphone penetration ​remains low within the region​. Although its © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 5
  7. 7. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   economy has stalled recently, Brazil’s mobile app industry is poised to continue growing as the value provided by apps have ensured that it is a segment of consumer spend that is relatively well-insulated from such macroeconomic factors. 3. The Next Wave: Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey App Annie ​previously highlighted​ ​4 markets to watch in 2015: Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey and Vietnam. The first 3 now place comfortably in the top 10 countries worldwide by downloads, while Vietnam continues to charge up the ranks. Mexico Mexico’s unique relationship with the US helped it ​take advantage of the stronger US dollar through growth in exports​, which led to an increase in jobs. Downloads, revenue and engagement with apps all climbed alongside increased consumer spending as a result of these new jobs, particularly on Android devices and Google Play. ​Usage Intelligence​ ​shows that a surge in device ownership, combined with increasing © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 6
  8. 8. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   engagement with apps, resulted in a 75% increase in total time spent in apps by consumers in Mexico from 2014 to 2015. Turkey and Indonesia While Mexico remains the larger market, Turkey and Indonesia also made rapid gains in 2015. The app market in Turkey was buoyed by ​rapid smartphone adoption and consumer demand for digital content​. Indonesia’s rise to prominence as a high-growth mobile market resulted in a ​surge of interest from technology investors and hardware manufacturers​ and roughly 40% growth in app downloads. The Next Wave’s Top Growth Sectors Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey all saw over 85% of downloads in 2015 coming from Google Play, signifying the importance of affordable Android smartphones in these markets. Within Google Play in these countries, Tools became the second-largest Google Play category by downloads after Games following strong growth in 2015. Utility apps like ​Clean Master​, ​360 Mobile Security​ and ​CM Security​ enjoyed a successful year as users in emerging markets sought to boost the performance and security of their phones. © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 7
  9. 9. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   Just like in India, mobile commerce is expanding rapidly in Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey, driven by the increasingly mobile customer base, improvements in security and greater ease of transactions. With the m-commerce segment in these countries still in its infancy, a number of homegrown retail app publishers seized opportunities to expand their customer base. In Indonesia, the sustained increase in mobile transactions fuelled incredible growth for marketplaces such as ​Tokopedia​ and ​Bukalapak​ in 2015. The same is happening in Turkey, where local retailer has been reporting ​significant increases in mobile traffic​ that have contributed to the success of their ​mobile app​. With their sizeable and young populations, wider availability of smartphones and expanding telecommunications infrastructure, it’s clear that Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey are solid investment options for technology investors and app publishers. 4. Future App Frontiers: Vietnam, Thailand, Egypt and Argentina The breakneck speeds at which apps are rising has widened the spotlight further. In 2015, markets such as Thailand, Vietnam, Argentina and Egypt made major strides and now represent the next frontier for mobile app growth. In terms of downloads and revenue, these frontier markets posted soaring growth rates from 2014 to 2015. Download growth rose as high as 60% year over year in Vietnam and Egypt, while revenue growth ranged between 30% to 40% across the four markets. © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 8
  10. 10. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   The greater availability and affordability of smartphones, as well as the ease and cost of acquiring users, will have profound implications for app publishers that expand to frontier markets. © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 9
  11. 11. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   Vietnam: A Gaming Giant in the Making Vietnam was the standout emerging market in 2015. ​Economically, Vietnam is accelerating​, helping the government fund infrastructure development and boost consumer spending power. This no doubt helped increase mobile data consumption to enable app downloads and revenue to soar in 2015. While game downloads and revenue tend to be an early indicator of a booming app economy in most emerging markets, the gaming sector stood out in Vietnam in 2015. Mobile games are undoubtedly a big part of Vietnam’s culture, commanding close to 50% share of downloads on both Google Play and iOS in 2015. The opportunity for monetization also showed promise as gaming revenue accelerated across both platforms. Scorching download and revenue growth aside, the country’s ​local developer community has thrived​ and helped it to stand out from its Southeast Asian counterparts. Its biggest success story, 2014’s viral smash hit ​Flappy Bird​, was so popular that its developer pulled it from the app store. Within the local market, social, entertainment and games publisher VNG leveraged local knowledge for a string of successes, including card and casino games ​ZingPlay - Tiến lên​ and ​ZingPlay Tá Lả​.​ As publisher of Vietnam’s most-downloaded messaging app, ​Zalo​, it will be interesting to see if VNG will attempt the full platform route on messaging as overseas equivalents such as Tencent have. Vietnam’s growth isn’t all about games, though, as a number of sectors saw big gains. Although it remains a smaller category, Google Play’s Shopping category gave a glimpse of the country’s m-commerce potential with 200% year over year growth. Local brick-and-mortar electronics retailer ​The Gioi Di Dong​ ​led the category in downloads in © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 10
  12. 12. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   2015, and other local apps including ​Cho​ (customer-to-customer [C2C] marketplace) and ​Sendo​ (e-commerce retailer) performed strongly. However, local m-commerce apps face strong competition from large regional players, including Lazada​ (e-commerce retailer) and ​Shopee​ (C2C marketplace). The relative success of local and regional companies in 2016 will be one to watch closely in a sector that is proving to be key in most emerging markets. Thailand: Infrastructure Developments Spur Future Growth Considered an “​upper-middle income economy​” by the World Bank, Thailand fared well economically against the backdrop of political instability and natural disasters in recent years. Government spending on mobile infrastructure continued and bore fruit, as its mobile users demonstrated a real appetite for apps. Downloads have been steadily increasing and, in 2015, the country surpassed Germany in the list of top countries by annual Google Play downloads. While the market in Vietnam is shaped in part by homegrown messaging and game publisher VNG, Thailand stands out in the frontier markets for the notable influence of Japanese leader LINE. Thailand is a key market for LINE, as evidenced by the recent release of ​LINE MUSIC​ in just two territories — Japan and Thailand. In 2015, the ​LINE​ app led combined iOS and Google Play revenue in Thailand, in contrast to the other markets profiled in this report where games consistently led revenue. Facebook also maintained a huge presence in social networking in Thailand. LINE’s platform-focused approach also helped it grow in other categories in 2015, with ​LINE TV​, ​B612​ (LINE’s selfie app), ​aillis​ (formerly LINE Camera​) and ​LINE MUSIC​ all appearing in Thailand's top 20 apps in 2015. ​ The company 1 1 By combined iOS and Google Play downloads outside of Games, Thailand, 2015. © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 11
  13. 13. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   also made a mark in gaming, contributing 2 of the top 10 games by combined iOS and Google Play downloads and revenue. The growth of Thailand’s app market may therefore be pivotal to LINE’s expansion outside of Japan. Photo apps also remain a key part of Thailand’s app economy. The Photography category trailed only Tools in Google Play downloads outside of games in 2015 and grew 25% year over year. Although LINE has a strong presence in this sector, competition for downloads is led by Chinese app publishers PinGuo, Meitu, Fotoable and Cheetah Mobile. With ​smartphone penetration heading toward 50%​ and further expansion of 4G networks in 2016, major international publishers are increasing focus on Thailand’s high-value app market and more are expected to follow. Egypt: Apps Revel in Meteoric Smartphone Growth Egypt is another frontier market witnessing exciting developments in mobile technology proliferation. Although it doesn’t rank highly when it comes to infrastructure readiness, the ​rapid adoption of smartphones​ has contributed to substantial growth in the app market over the past year. Like many Google Play-dominated markets across the globe, growth in Egypt’s downloads in 2015 was driven primarily by apps in the Tools category. This is a category strongly dominated by Chinese publishers, demonstrating their ability to rapidly capitalize on the demand for such apps created, in particular, by lower-end Android devices. Leading publishers include heavyweights such as Cheetah Mobile, Qihoo 360, Holaverse and Baidu. Outside of the Tools category, messaging remains a key component of the app market in Egypt. While most markets are dominated by a small number of messaging apps, the competitive landscape in Egypt remains relatively open, with 5 messaging apps in the top 12. ​Facebook Messenger​ and ​WhatsApp Messenger​ led the way, but ​Viber​ has a2 strong presence in Arabic markets and remains near the top in Egypt. ​LINE​, with a proven record in emerging markets, is also in the race. Lastly, ​imo​ showed exceptional gains in 2015 to join the top contenders. The proliferation of multiple messaging apps is likely an indication of the early stage of growth in Egypt’s mobile market, but as it develops further in the next year or two we expect a clearer picture of the eventual winners to emerge. 2 By combined iOS and Google Play overall downloads, Egypt, 2015. © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 12
  14. 14. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   As with many other emerging markets, m-commerce is a smaller sector but shows exceptional promise in Egypt​. The current leaders in the space are regional e-commerce retailers such as ​​, ​Jumia​ and C2C marketplace ​OpenSooq​. These companies have invested heavily to register incredible growth in 2015 but will now have to stave off increasing competition from foreign rivals as well as up-and-coming startups. As Egypt increases its embrace of the mobile platform, its burgeoning app market is definitely one to keep an eye on. Argentina: A Rising Force in the Latin American App Economy The large populations of Brazil and Mexico ensure that they are the dominant mobile app markets in the Latin America, but Argentina is experiencing a rapid transition to smartphones that gave it ​higher smartphone penetration than its larger neighbor, Brazil​. Additionally, ​Usage Intelligence for Operators​ ​reveals that Argentina witnessed 60% growth in data consumption per active user from December 2014 to December 2015 as consumers benefited from ​improvements in telecommunications infrastructure​ and improved mobile connectivity. With a large number of smartphone © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 13
  15. 15. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   users consuming increasing amounts of data, Argentina is certainly worth watching alongside its larger regional neighbors. App downloads in Argentina are dominated by Google Play, and 2015 saw strong double-digit download growth across many app categories. Similar to Thailand, 2015 was a strong year for camera apps in Argentina. Again, LINE’s ​B612​ app was a key contributor, highlighting the value of its diversified app portfolio that provides a notable presence in emerging markets even where its primary messaging app is less influential. Dating apps also found traction in Argentina in 2015, as ​happn​ recorded remarkable growth in downloads to challenge ​Tinder​ at the top of the charts. It's not just foreign app publishers that are cashing in on Argentina’s mobile developments. Local publisher Etermax initially ​struggled to build traction​ for ​Trivia Crack​, but with a few feature tweaks, the app went on to become the country’s #1 game in 2014 and its success continued into 2015. Not willing to rest on its laurels, © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 14
  16. 16. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   Etermax used the game’s success in Argentina as a platform to expand internationally and penetrate major markets, reaching #1 in 16 markets including the US. With an improving economic outlook and increasingly mobile-oriented market, both local and foreign app publishers should feel encouraged to invest in Argentina, as many more growth opportunities exist across all app categories. 5. Succeeding in Emerging App Markets As the mobile sphere expands, emerging markets will continue to lure app publishers with global ambitions. Smartphone adoption in these markets is increasing rapidly and due to heavy investment into mobile technologies, many consumers have moved from being mobile-aware to mobile-first in their thought processes and actions. This has many implications for app publishers and advertisers. Savvy advertisers are increasingly © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 15
  17. 17. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   prioritizing mobile as an advertising channel, which creates vast opportunities for publishers to market new apps and explore a variety of monetization strategies. Additionally, Google’s move to ​retool Google Play pricing options​ in emerging markets should have a positive impact on revenue growth if publishers take advantage of the opportunity to maximize paying customers. However, expanding into emerging markets is not always a simple task. Infrastructure and information frameworks remain nascent and underdeveloped, so apps must be designed to perform on minimal bandwidth. Additionally, each country has its own unique cultural and behavioral characteristics that need to be understood. ​Localization remains critical​, and it will be important to get to know customers and establish alliances with key ecosystem stakeholders to mitigate risks and maximize opportunities. Ultimately, the mobile-first nature of emerging markets will create a solid platform for experimentation with new ideas, and the rapidly growing user base means the cost of missing out could be enormous. © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 16
  18. 18. The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets   About App Annie App Annie delivers the most trusted app data and insights for your business to succeed in the app economy globally. App Annie is used by more than 1 million apps to track their performance, and now has over 500,000 registered members — including 94 of the top 100 publishers. The company is headquartered in San Francisco with 425 employees across 15 global offices. App Annie has raised $157 million in financing to date from investors such as e.Ventures, Greenspring Associates, Greycroft Partners, IDG Capital Partners, Institutional Venture Partners and Sequoia Capital. For more information, please visit​ ​​, check out our blog, and follow us on Twitter (​@AppAnnie​). To find out more about our specific products, tour our ​App Store Analytics​, ​Store Stats​, and ​App Annie Intelligence​ products. For the most current monthly rankings of apps and publishers, check out the ​App Annie Index​. Report methodology and updates are available ​here​. © 2016 App Annie​                                                                                            ​    ​ 17
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Our report, The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets, investigates questions about market growth within regions, what causing certain countries to grow, and which categories have the most untapped opportunities. If you’re looking to expand into new, high-growth markets or invest in the world’s next powerhouse app economies, this report is a must-read.


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