Chinese mobile app economy growing on fast track

Updated 2017-03-13 16:20:21 Xinhua

China's booming mobile app market will continue to expand with rising smart device penetration and mobilization of more traditional businesses, according to a leading industry observer.

“China's app economy is accelerating in growth, putting it within striking distance of Japan and the United States,” Bertrand Schmitt, CEO and co-founder of App Annie, told Xinhua.

Research from App Annie, an app market data provider, showed that China surpassed the United States in iOS App Store downloads in 2015 and claimed the top spot for iOS App Store revenue.

Chinese companies took eleven spots in the global top 52 publishers list, with Tencent and NetEase ranking first and third respectively for iOS and Google Play overall revenue, according to the latest report from the company.

China was home to about 700 million mobile Internet users by the end of last year, posting double-digit growth for three consecutive years, according to a report released by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).

“Though smart phone penetration growth might slow down in the future, the market volume is continuously expanding and people tend to spend more for app services,” Schmitt said. “Gaming apps are the biggest market winners in terms of revenue, followed by social networking and entertainment apps, including those offering video streaming and photo editing services.”

Schmitt said that apps were transforming many sectors, especially in the retail and banking sectors, evidenced by China's booming mobile e-commerce and mobile payment industries.

Mobile payment users grew by 31.2 percent year on year in 2016, with about two-thirds of smart phone users enjoying the service, the CNNIC report showed.

“Traditional sectors must continue to invest in their app strategies to stay competitive in an increasingly mobile world,” he added.

He said that another major reason for optimism on China's app economy was the country's entrepreneurship.

The French IT veteran chose to start the company in Beijing in 2010, as he found out that in addition to its huge mobile app market potential, China was rich in talented engineering personnel, a crucial resource for tech start-ups.

“Back in 2010, and more so now, I often met people who would give me three business cards at one time. This is rare in other markets. Chinese people are very entrepreneurial,” Schmitt said. “A decade ago it was about foreign companies grabbing the Chinese market, but now Chinese companies are actively expanding overseas.”

He believes that the diverse nature of the market in China and the ability to localize are all factors that give China a boost in the industry.

“Chinese companies have an edge in going global thanks to their rich experience in developing both labor-intensive and technology-driven products in China,” he said. “They can start overseas expansion from nearby markets first, and most importantly, focus on localizing the product with cultural adaptation.”

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