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Worldwide top mobile markets – by the number of downloads and consumer spend

With the mobile only continuing to grow in 2018, what are the top mobile markets leading by the number of downloads or consumer spend in app stores? With customers being more open to in-app [...]

January 30, 2019

9 min reading time


With the mobile only continuing to grow in 2018, what are the top mobile markets leading by the number of downloads or consumer spend in app stores? With customers being more open to in-app purchases, consumer spend grew rapidly. China, despite leading the list by number of downloads and consumer spend on the iOS operating system, did not have year-over-year growth in consumer spend in app stores as expected. That was the result of more strict laws for the approval of the new mobile games.

For the first time in 13 years, Tencent, China’s internet and tech giant and the biggest gaming company, suffered a 5% drop in stock rates. Still, Tencent was among 5 companies that earned the most from consumer spend worldwide. This very wide and emerging market is already closed for the majority of Western publishers. Biggest social media networks as well the websites we’re used to using on a daily basis are banned in China.

The United States is among top 4 countries in all list in this article – not surprising since they are Tier 1 country. Countries in Tier 1 are super competitive, but their customers have highly developed spending habits – resulting in higher consumer spend in app stores.

Worldwide top mobile markets in 2018 – by iOS downloads

China is leading the list of top markets by iOS downloads, leaving the United States in the second place. Will this remain the case in 2019 following the iPhone ban in China in December of 2019? Some of Apple’s iPhone models have already been banned from sale in China. With this market already being very closed, we can’t be sure how will this affect the global market. Chinese court banned the sales of two iPhone models on the claims of the violation of Qualcomm’s patents. Apple since released a software update that should solve the problem, but these two companies have a longer history of disputes over patents. If it remains the case in 2019, it could affect China’s position as the top country worldwide by iOS downloads and iOS consumer spend.

Market share of mobile operating systems in China
Market share of mobile operating systems in China, source: Statista

iOS holds around 25% of market share of the mobile operating system in China. That is more than the global share of 18%. On the second place on this list is the United States, already having a much higher percentage of iOS users than the rest of the world. They are followed by Japan and the United Kingdom.

worlwide top markets 2018 by ios downloads

Worldwide top mobile markets in 2018 – by iOS consumer spend

China is also the top country by iOS consumer spend, among United States, Japan and the United Kingdom. In the past year, China accounted for nearly 50% of total downloads in 2018 across iOS and third-party Android. This was slowed down following the ban on the game license freeze. China accounted for nearly 40% of the total consumer spend in 2018. If we took a look on a category level, games accounted for 74% of consumer spend in 2018! This number largely grew due to the growth of in-app subscriptions.

worldwide top markets 2018 ios spend


Worldwide top mobile markets in 2018 – by Google Play downloads

India is on the top of the list by the number of downloads in the Google play store, with Brazil on the second place. The United States is the third on the list, leaving Indonesia in the fourth place. Indians still prefer Android over iOS, and they are very conservative about in-app purchases and paid apps. Even though it is in top mobile markets by Google Play downloads, it is not among the top 10 apps by Google Play consumer spend. India held this place since 2016 according to the data by AppAnnie.

Market share of mobile operating systems in India
Market share of mobile operating systems in India, source: Statista

Globally, Android takes 88% of the mobile market share held by leading operating systems, and in India it is following the same ratio with 82% of the market share. But iOS takes only 3% of the market share in India. Android is clearly very dominant in India, but Indian consumers still prefer free apps and avoid in-app purchases. Average customer in India now has almost 70 apps – better smartphone devices with more storage can accomodate the growing needs of mobile phone users.

worldwide top markets 2018 google downloads

Worldwide top mobile markets in 2018 – by Google play consumer spend

Android is currently taking 88% of global share by mobile OS. Annie’s forecast predicts the further growth of global consumer spend in app stores reaching $156.5 billion in 2022. This is up 92% from $81.7 billion in 2017. United States is the top country by the consumer spend in Google play store, with Japan on the second place. South Korea is the third, and Germany the fourth. These countries have the customers that are most open toward paid apps and in-app purchases. Still, we can expect the majority of the revenue coming from the countries on this list.

High number of downloads isn’t necessarily connected with the high consumer spend – we can see that there is no India on this list. Japan and United States are in the top 4 countries by consumer spend on both platforms. That is the result of highly-developed spending habits of the consumers in these markets, as well as high buying power. That results in high media buying costs – there is simply much more advertisers in these competitive markets.

worldwide top markets 2018 google spend

Conclusion:

Mobile has already surpassed traditional media – no wonder that the number of downloads and consumer spend in both app stores have been growing. China is leading the list of iOS number of downloads and consumer spend – leaving United States in the second place. India is on the top of the list by the number of downloads in the Google Play store, but the high number of downloads doesn’t necessarily reflect in high consumer spend in app stores. Indian consumers are still not very open toward paid apps or in-app purchases. Nowdays, the average consumer in the US, South Korea, Japan and Australia has more than 100 apps on their smartphone.

Top countries by consumer spend and downloads highly reflect the biggest companies in this market. Companies that have headquarters in US and China generated more than half of total consumer spend in the top 300 parent companies in 2018. China was leading with 32% of total consumer spend globally accounting to $19.6 billion.

Markets listed in this article will surely stay very attractive in 2019 and 2020 – there were not many changes in the ranking of the countries in the past two years. Changes are driven by the improvements of the technology – the average user in the US, South Korea, Japan and Australia today has more than 100 apps on their smartphone. Before, limited storage on the phone allowed only a handful of apps to be downloaded. In the emerging markets there are still not so many downloads or they are growing slower – there we have a high prevalence of lower cost Android devices with less storage capacity.

Further reading:

App Annie – The State of Mobile 2019 – https://www.appannie.com/en/go/state-of-mobile-2019/

About Udonis

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Slavica Grgić

I'm Slavica, Social Marketing Manager at Udonis. If I'm not writing new blog posts, I'm making sure that everything is picture perfect.

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