Flurry Analytics, a leading mobile app analytics service, measured 33,527,534 active smartphones and tablets in South Korea this August. While that was only 2.8% of the entire worldwide connected device installed base Flurry measures, South Korea is an important market for connected devices for several reasons.

1. First Saturated Device Market

The growth rate for connected devices in South Korea slowed down in the one-year period ended August of 2013, climbing only 17% against the world average of 81%. The South Korean figure once eclipsed that of the world during late 2011 and early 2012 when Samsung introduced the Galaxy Note, the first successful ‘phablet’ that driven staggering growth of the firm. The growth has slowed markedly or even been negative ever since, implying that the South Korean connected device market either already is, or will soon be, the first in the world to reach saturation.


As such, South Korea provides a good early indicator of what other markets can expect once the rapid growth period the mobile market has experienced over the past few years ends. The report predicted that the future development directions of saturated markets are new uses for connected devices, such as mobile payments, and interoperability across connected devices.

2. Dominance of Local Manufacturers

The dominance of South Korean connected device manufacturers in their own country is unique in the world. More of the devices in use there are manufactured by domestic firms than is the case for any other country.

Samsung continues to dominate the South Korean market, biting a 60% share of a random sample of 3,124 of the devices in Flurry’s system in South Korea that run iOS or Android apps. Two other South Korean device manufacturers, LG and Pantech, had another 25% of the market, meaning that the vast majority of the smartphones and tablets being used in South Korea (85% of the devices in the sample) are manufactured in South Korea.


3. Home to Phablets

Phablets, a device that ushered the rapid growth of South Korean manufacturers, is preferred as compared with other devices. In a worldwide sample of 97,963 iOS and Android devices, only 7% were phablets, but for South Korea that percentage was 41%. Worldwide, 19% of the devices in Flurry’s sample were tablets compared to only 5% in South Korea.


As the case in most countries, games and social networking are the most popular apps in South Korea. On average, the gaming customers of SK Planet‘s T Store, the largest app store in South Korea, generate ₩5,657 (~U.S. $5.27) per user per month in gaming revenue alone compared to an overall average of ₩3,135 (~U.S. $2.92) per user per month in revenue across all forms of digital content for all customers.


Compared to app users elsewhere, South Koreans over-index on entertainment apps on iOS and several Android app categories (Media/Video, Photography, Lifestyle, Shopping, and Tools). The vast majority of apps used in South Korea – 96% of those available through the T Store – are free. Please read the full report at here.


image credit: Flurry

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via lixin@sixthtone.com or Twitter.

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