The U.S. May be The Biggest Android-iOS Market Now, But China is Catching Up Quickly

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By Kim-Mai Cutler Comment

Mobile analytics and monetization company Flurry took a deep dive into the international reach of both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android platforms today.

The U.S. is still three times larger than China in terms of Android and iOS users who have run apps in the last 30 days. It has 41 percent of the world’s 264 million active smartphone users. However, China has far more upside with 122 million people who have the financial ability to buy a smartphone but haven’t done so yet.

We’ve covered the emergence of China extensively on this blog. I spent a month there this fall surveying different developers and platform operators about the risks and opportunities of the Chinese market. Essentially, it’s very fast-growing and smartphones are a (relatively) affordable and practical status symbol for white-collar workers. However, piracy, fragmentation and payments infrastructure for local app stores make it a difficult market to monetize at the moment. The most successful foreign developers operating there either cater to a foreign market (like Happylatte or Zynga’s Beijing studio) or they have been there for several years and take a patient approach like EA PopCap.

South Korea and Scandinavia Are Mature in Terms of Smartphone Penetration

One other interesting thing Flurry’s report showed was that South Korea and Sweden are among the most mature markets in the world for smartphone penetration. Considering that so many developers have come out of South Korea and Scandinavia like Gamevil, Rovio Mobile, Nexon, Grey Area Labs, Supercell and more, this fact is not particularly surprising.

What this implies though is that these developers will (and are) depending on international audiences to fuel their continuing growth. Gamevil, which has seen a strong performance on public markets this year with a 149.2 percent gain, recently opened an office in Japan. Rovio Mobile is likewise expanding in China.

Where is India?

With 1.2 billion people and a booming tech industry out of Bangalore, India should theoretically become a major market. But its extreme inequality means that the actual potential market size is small. Flurry picks up just 3 million active Android and iOS users in the last 30 days.

Still, an analysis of the size of India’s middle-class based on a method from Pepperdine University professor Roy Adler, suggests that there might be 75 million consumers there that have the ability to buy a smartphone.

Japan, The Most Lucrative Market Per User in The World, Still Has a Ways to Grow

The presence of GREE and DeNA hasn’t put off developers like Gamevil or Crowdstar from trying their hand at the market. And Japan’s current level of smartphone penetration is a hint. Flurry estimates that there are 10 million active Android or iOS users in the country based on the last 30 days of activity. But it says there are still 65 million consumers there who might upgrade to a smartphone or switch to these platforms from competitors.