Study Shows Half of App Store Growth From Chinese Users

January 17, 2017 - 2 minutes read

2016 was a stellar year for app sales—especially on Google Play. Bay Area app developers saw record-breaking statistics quarter after quarter, leading into the strongest holiday sales season of all time. (Or at least, the ten years of the iPhone era.)

According to a new study from analytics group App Annie, we might have a surprising source to thank for some of that growth, at least when it comes to raw download numbers: Chinese app users.

Overall, downloads were above the baseline by 15% the past year, pushing a 40% revenue boost in the year as a whole. Unsurprisingly for those of us watching mobile trends, FinTech app developers, productivity tools, and social media were major drivers.

In addition to downloads, usage statistics show a 150 billion hour boost in app usage. However, this data was unable to incorporate usage data from Chinese app users, so pundits are looking to the download statistic for clues about how to better reach and serve China, among other international app markets.

While numbers are up, data from App Annie and other groups like Nielsen show that the game is still tough for small-time developers. Users tend to peak at 5–25 apps when it comes to regular use, with the majority of apps downloaded winding up removed or relegated to the app drawer during the first month.

Perhaps the most surprising finding from analysts in 2016 is the slowing performance of mobile games, compared to more utilitarian app categories like finance and health tracking.

Will these trends hold true for app developers in 2017, or have we reached a peak saturation point for app use in the current market? With so many emerging markets worldwide, it’s fair to say that only time will tell. App developers, at any rate, are betting on an upward slope.

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