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3 Reasons International Developers Can’t Avoid China

3 Giant Reasons Why International Developers Should Care About China

China could become number one in smartphone users, app usage and app downloads in the very foreseeable future. China is a giant opportunity that international developers can no longer afford to ignore.

Recently, I have been overwhelmed with the number of mobile apps and service companies contacting us for assistance to grow in China. I can’t mention the more recent ones, but developers already doing business here include Flipboard, Tapjoy, Spotify, Outfit7 (Talking Friends), Glu, Spotify, Rovio (Angry Birds), EA, Zynga, Epic, Tango, Gree, DeNA and Mozilla.

Despite historical difficulties for tech companies in China, many of these mobile companies are amazingly beginning to experience significant success. For Rovio, Outfit7 and others, China is their fastest growing market and among their top 3 countries for downloads. If this information alone isn’t enough for international developers to consider China seriously, here are 3 relatively new developments that should overcome any doubt.

1.       Smartphones Users Will Soon Overtake the US

Due to the rapidly decreasing prices of smartphones (mostly on Android) and the rising incomes of China’s population, China overtook the US in smartphone shipments in Q3 2011. To do this, China grew by 58% to 24 million units while the US only grew by 7% to 23 million units. China smartphone users currently reach approximately 90 million out of 1.3 billion people. If we assume anything close to this trend continues, China will surpass the US’s 100 million smartphone users in 2012.

2.       China #2 in App Usage

According to a recent report from Flurry, an analytics firm, China is number 2 in app usage only to the US. The below chart, which the US is excluded, shows that China holds 7.3 percent of global app usage (measured by sessions). The US still holds a solid 47% share of usage, but if these trajectories continue, China will overtake the US in app usage in 2013.

3.       China Nearing the US in App Downloads and is Beginning to Pay!

According to another enlightening report, this time by Distimo, not only is China the second largest iPhone App Market after the US, but is quickly nearing the US in terms of downloads. In a comparison of the two countries, China grew from 18 percent of iPhone downloads to 30 percent in an 11 month period. The same comparison on iPad downloads is even more impressive; the US and China are near equal in quantity of iPad downloads. Again, if these trends continue, the US Apple App Store will be surpassed by China’s Apple App Store in 2012. Afterall, ABIresearch predicts 5.5 billion mobile apps will be downloaded in China in 2012.

But that’s not all the good news. There is evidence that Chinese users are becoming more comfortable spending money on apps. Previously, Chinese users had to have an international USD credit card to purchase apps on the Apple App Store, a barrier relatively few could overcome. However, since the Apple App Store began accepting Chinese RMB via local bank and credit cards in November, the download volumes of paid apps have doubled!


It is clear that China can no longer be ignored by international developers. Yes, it is a unique market with significant challenges, but developers are better off starting to climb the steep learning curve now. Why? Because they need to be well positioned in the near future when, according to these reports, China becomes number one in smartphone users, app usage and app downloads.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.


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