China was the main driver of Apple’s iOS App Store growth in the first quarter of 2014 as competition between iOS and Android continued to heat up in Asia.
China saw a 70 percent increase in App Store downloads from the last quarter of 2013 according to data accumulated by App Annie. China was the second largest market for App Store downloads last quarter, eclipsed by the US but beating out Japan. The UK and Russia were fourth and fifth respectively.
Since a public spat between Google and China in 2010, Google Play has suffered in China, making it a relatively small market for the search giant. The open nature of Android also makes it easy for competing app markets to serve consumers. That hasn’t stopped Google Play’s growth in Asia, though.
South Korea and India saw the fourth and fifth highest number of downloads from Google Play last quarter. While Japan did not make the top five in that category, it garnered the most revenue for Google Play, with South Korea coming in third behind the U.S.
Japan and China were the second and third largest revenue sources for the iOS App Store, also behind the U.S.
All the BRICS countries have played important roles in the growth of smartphones and apps. Russia had the fifth highest number of downloads on iOS last quarter whereas Brazil and Russia were second and third, respectively, for Google Play downloads. App Annie also noted that South Africa has seen “impressive growth.”
The Android and iOS competition in China has become more stark over the last year. When Apple announced the iPhone 5c, there was hope that the plastic-framed phone would be able to capture the lower end of the smartphone market, and it was largely seen as an attempt to increase sales in China. However, the price difference was not big enough to entice Chinese consumers. Sales of the 5c have lagged behind Apple’s flagship iPhone 5s, which now accounts for 12 percent of China’s iOS market, while the 5c lags behind with less than 2 percent.
There is also evidence that developers in Asia are prioritizing Android, by far the dominant OS in the region. In China, Android makes up nearly 79 percent of smartphone sales.
Still, iOS commands higher revenue than Android, as people using the open source platform tend to spend less money. Games are the main driver of revenue growth on both platforms and games are the most popular apps on iOS. The most popular apps on Android, however, are productivity apps like Titanium Backup Pro, Google Translate and the Lookout Security & Antivirus.
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