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Examining the Largest App Market and its Entertainment Trends

28 Apr 2021 Developer News
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Regardless of what country or industry you’re in, most looking to advance their business look to the market leaders as an example of what’s working and how to build forward. In the realms of smartphones and apps, the biggest market in the world and most of the biggest products come from the Asia Pacific region. China, the Korean Republic, and Japan are goliaths of the industry, particularly when it comes to smartphone penetration, downloads of entertainment apps, and in-app purchases.

Those familiar with the video games industry won’t find this surprising of Japan, the home of Sony’s PlayStation, the Nintendo handheld and home consoles, and a huge range of global smash-hit games. So, just how mighty is the Asia Pacific market, what are the trends of the region, and which apps are working with these vast, avid audiences.

The power of the Asia Pacific market

Source: Unsplash

Not only because of the powerhouse population of China, but the Asia Pacific is perfectly positioned as the biggest smartphone and app market in the world. Forecast to exceed 60 percent mobile internet user penetration within four years, there are already over two billion mobile internet users in the region as it stands. Furthermore, the leading nations are paying huge sums into apps.

Recent findings from 2018 found that 53.4 percent of all smartphone users were in the Asia Pacific region, over 73 percent of China’s $26 billion app-spend went into games, and smartphone gamers in Japan paid over three times as much as American gamers. As for the Korean Republic, it boasts the highest smartphone penetration rate in Asia. They’re all very much mobile-first cultures, with the mobile sectors being incredibly competitive. Given the year of those findings, the chances are that those numbers are now an understatement.

Being cost-effective, accessible, convenient, and even preferred, apps that connect to the audiences of the Asia Pacific can far exceed expectations in even the much-heralded western markets. In the Korean Republic and Japan especially, in-app spending isn’t stigmatised as it is in the west, where the traditional pay and then play model is very well established. The microtransaction model is seen as an accessible and optional way to play, helping to pump Asian spending to around $12 billion per year, per

Apps aren’t as dominant in all nations

Source: Pixabay

For a long time, we’ve been convinced that apps are must-have pieces of software, offering all of the convenience, personalisation, and readiness that mobile users demand. In many Asia Pacific nations, the mobile web is a much more dominant force. In regards to the total time spent on mobiles, it’s only in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand that app time outweighs mobile web time.

Some popular mobile websites also offer apps, but, like so many offer mobile-optimised sites in most nations, there’s less of a need to offer an app. This is even true of online gaming platforms. Across Asian nations, the finding of and use of online casino gaming and sports gaming is predominantly done via mobile sites. For example, by offering expert reviews and honest comparisons, has become the go-to source for finding legitimate gaming sites across the region. Knowing the trends of the area, each site has become fully accessible through browsers.

For other sources of mobile gaming and entertainment, apps are in higher standing for Android, Apple, and other OS users. Much like you’ll find the best castle defence app games through an app store, you’ll also find the most-played mobile app games via the official app stores. However, there’s more than just Google Play and the App Store that offer a collection of games, with brands like Huawei also weighing in on the action.

Top-ranking entertainment apps of the Asia Pacific region

As recorded by, Chinese apps dominate the iOS App Store worldwide, and the Korea Republic and Japan rank higher with their games on the Play Store. Most of the players of the highest-standing apps hail from the native region of the creators, with some of these barely scratching the top-20 in western markets.

In iOS circles, it’s China’s Game For Peace from Tencent, AFK Arena from Lilith, and Honour of Kings – also Tencent – which reigned supreme last year. The only game to break the Chinese dominance of the top five was Activision Blizzard’s Candy Crush Saga. On Android devices, Lineage 2M from the Korea Republic, Monster Strike from Japan, and Fate/Grand Order from Japan stood atop the rest. Still, though, China’s Rise of Kingdom muscled into fourth place in the world.

As for the next biggest form of mobile entertainment, video streaming, Netflix stood supreme globally. As the only non-communication or social media app to break the top-ten most popular global apps in 2020, per, Netflix firmly cemented itself as the biggest entertainment app. It received over 220 million downloads last year, and while the name itself isn’t present in China, its partner iQiyi reigned supreme in its stead.

The Asia Pacific region is just about as smartphone obsessed as you’ll find, and while many utilise mobile web browsers most of the time, apps hailing from the region prove popular enough to rank at the top of global standings.

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