The State of Mobile

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The mobile world eagerly awaited the industry reports which were released this week. Now that the numbers are finally in, let’s take a look at the data that is most important for app developers to know as 2014 continues.

Who Runs the World? Android

This may not be a surprise for most, but Android dominated the global smartphone market share in 2013 with 78.9% of all global phone shipments, shipping 4 times as much as Apple and Windows combined. Apple’s iOS was in a distant second with 15.5% of the global market share, down over 4% since 2012. Windows Phone continued to grow, with 3.6% of the market share.

Android grew over 10% from 2012 to 2013, but this growth rate is the lowest in the platform’s history. In 2014, developers can expect Android’s growth to slow even more as the mobile market becomes more saturated. Developers should also be aware that Microsoft and Firefox are much more likely to gain Android’s lost market share than Apple.

Asia Emerges as Mobile Capital of the World

Mobile app revenue in Asia grew by an unprecedented 162% from December 2012 to December 2013. Asia is now one of the most lucrative app markets in the world with nearly 41% of global mobile app revenue coming from Asian countries. Compare this to 31% for North America and 23% for Europe. In fact, 9 of the 10 top grossing apps on the Google Play Store in 2013 were published for Asian audiences.

Japan has emerged as the most lucrative app market within Asia, followed by South Korea and China. Google Play is a major player in Japan and especially in South Korea, so Android developers should seriously considered targeting their apps for those audiences. Most of China’s app revenue came from alternative app stores or the Apple App Store, so iOS developers will find more success in China than in South Korea.

Graphs Country Sizes Map

The Bottom Line

In 2014, developers should watch the growth of Android drop significantly and Windows Phone and Firefox OS should start gaining more significant market share. Now that Android has solidified its dominance, Google will begin to start perfecting the platform. Already this year, Google has sold Motorola to Lenovo, shrinking the number of Android manufacturers and giving Android a stronger foothold in Asia. Google and Samsung also reached a backroom decision, and Samsung has agreed to scale down Samsung-branded Android bloat-ware, which will cut down on the much-maligned Android software fragmentation.

After a disappointing year, Apple will be looking to shake things up in 2014. They have already signed a deal to bring the iPhone to the largest mobile carrier in China, and they have announced that they will discontinue the iPhone 5C, after disappointing numbers. Look out for either a larger iPhone or a ground-breaking wearable device.

And, if you do one thing in 2018, make sure to optimize your app for Asian markets! The year-to-year growth has been astonishing, and it does not seem like it will be slowing down anytime soon.

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