Image credit: Metaps

Image credit: Metaps

Metaps, an app monetisation platform that uses AI and Big Data to maximise app revenue and optimise campaign performance, has released its overview of the Mainland China mobile app market for 2014.

The report focusses on key areas including the mobile Internet environment, mobile device usage analysis, the size of the mobile gaming market, and the Android and iOS app markets.

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Data from CNNI and iResearch shows that Internet users in China are expected to hit 850 million by 2017, with 750 million of those on mobile. That has grown from just 380 million (230 million on mobile) in 2009, and 670 million (580 million mobile) today in 2014.

Mobile Internet adoption among men in China grew faster than women between 2012 and 2013 due to the introduction of cheaper smartphones and an increase in mobile gaming content. Half of users were aged between 26 to 35 years old, and over 80 per cent access Internet via mobile in 2014, according to Adtime Atlas.

In terms of the main telcos, China Mobile captured 46 per cent of the market, China Unicom 29 per cent, and China Telecom 25 per cent (valid as of December 2013). Meanwhile, the growth of 4G mobile Internet has expanded by over 3,000 per cent since January 2014, according to Umeng.

China’s mobile gaming market is expected to nearly triple in size to US$11.5 billion by 2017, up from US$3.9 billion this year, with the heaviest usage being recorded in Guangzhou, Jiangtu and Zhejiang as of August this year.

Over 34,000 mobile games were released in China between January and August, with RPG and card battle games enjoying the highest number of paying users. In terms of sheer user numbers, running apps ala Temple Run are the most popular, followed by casual card games.

Android is still by far the top mobile OS in China, with over 70 per cent market share — iOS comes in distant second with 19 per cent. Other small players in the single digits include Symbian, Windows Phone, and Bada.

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As of Q2 2014, Samsung still had six of the top 10 Android devices, with its Galaxy Note series top at the time. In terms of active Android devices, homegrown Xiaomi comes in second place. The report points out that Xiaomi had three smartphone models in the top 10 for Q2 this year, and is quickly gaining ground on Samsung — it is also expected to ship more devices this year than the Korean giant.

Despite the success of Android, or forked versions of the open source OS, Google Play is still notably absent from Mainland China. 360 Mobile Assistant was the largest Android app store in the country as of September, but there are in fact several hundred variants.

Unlike Google Play, Apple’s iOS App Store is available in China, and homegrown Tencent claimed five of the top 10 grossing App Store titles in November. Alibaba’s payment solution platform Alipay is the top ranked free app. Unsurprisingly, 92 per cent of top grossing apps in China’s App Store are games.

A few key takeaways from one case study for developers in the China mobile app market are listed below:

  1. Get people in the industry to mention apps on Weibo (the Chinese version of Twitter)
  2. Use celebrities in game advertisements
  3. Do large-scale advertising on news and portal websites
  4. Don’t release for free, but instead consider the minimal RMB1
  5. Promote that limited user spaces are available (i.e. 100,000 users)
  6. Promote on non-gaming channels such as e-commerce and carrier websites
  7. Hold competitions for user-generated content
  8. Get coverage in general magazines, newspapers and local publications
  9. Include QR codes in published material

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