The total number of downloads in Asia “grew significantly” in the past six months, the Distimo study found, while downloads from western countries decreased.
Unfortunately for many app developers, the number of paid downloads and overall sales revenue still lag behind the U.S. (by about a third) and Europe. Customers would rather download the free version of an app than pony up a few dollars for the premium, ad-free version. Customers in Japan are more willing than those in nearby countries to pay for apps.
In-app purchases are also trailing behind, underlining the need for developers targeting Asian markets to pursue alternative monetization strategies, such as advertising.
The study also found that the majority of popular iPhone apps in Asia, such as KungFu Food-Panda and Birzzle, are only popular in Asia. This is especially true in China, South Korea and Japan. In countries such as India and Indonesia, app localization is less important.
However, the U.S. and Asian countries exhibit the same preferences in terms of content. Games are overwhelmingly the most popular category in both groups, followed by entertainment. Social networking apps are the third most popular category in Asia, while photography apps are the third most popular group in the U.S.