The rise in influence of the app market on the world digital economy cannot be swept under the rug. As of 2020, there are over 5 million downloadable mobile apps for Android and Apple’s App Store, according to Statista and over 12 million app developers in the world. If we all agree that Asia as a whole is a great source of app developers, let’s pay attention to Southeast Asia as an app distribution market since it has become one the most significant contributing regions to this figure. 

SEA (Southeast Asia) countries have their part to play in the app distribution market. They are the third most populous region in the world, with a boast of 11 countries under them. According to Liftoff, about 90% of the SEA’s population is connected to the internet for an average of 4 hours per day. It implies that they might be using their mobile devices more than the rest of the world. Hence, making it an incredible region for generating profit via mobile apps. 

The Sprout of Mobile Connectivity

The region is taking steps into the digital world at a pace only comparable to Brazil or the Middle East, with continually increasing numbers of smartphone owners. But, why would this make the region especially interesting for Android developers? We are talking about countries where the population is relatively young, and therefore the interest in gaming is higher. According to a Google survey, more than a third of the users in the most populated countries in Southeast Asia play on their phone, at least once a week. 

Studies about mobile gaming in recent years show impressive figures related to the app distribution market. According to Andovar, the downloads of games combined in Android and iOS in Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia increased by 45% between 2013 and 2014. If we take into account that the consumer expenditure in countries like Malaysia and Thailand has increased non-stop since 2014, we can affirm that SEA countries are quite a good bet to distribute and monetize your apps. 

Singapore, as reported, has one of the highest global reaches in the world of digital and mobile technology. It has made many other countries flock into the country for universal access. However, Indonesia houses the highest number of app publishers and apps in Southeast Asian countries. 

Apps or Games in SEA Countries

On the popularity scale, downloads, and usage, apps tend to receive more percentage than games in the SEA countries. Since SEA countries have various views about politics, religion, culture, and language, it appears that more of them are social butterflies. 

Hence, the citizens are more active social media users than gaming folks. Singapore and the Philippines record the most social media users, between 75% to 83% of the population actively involved. This explains the reason why Likee and TikTok are one of the most downloaded apps in Singapore. The highest gainers in the app distribution markets are those that develop entertainment apps and shopping apps. They tend to be more involved in online shopping than going to grocery stores. It, therefore, points to the fact that developers would gain a firmer stance if they could factor on this. 

Independent App Stores

Some of the largest third-party app stores have quite an impressive audience in Southeast Asian markets, which is not surprising due to the influence of China. Tencent app store is the largest app distribution platform in the Chinese app distribution market, and it’s worth noting that Indonesia is one of the largest markets for the Aptoide app store. 

Due to the variety of devices that cope with the Asian markets, with Chinese manufacturers always on top positions, users in Southeast Asian countries are more receptive to use independent app stores. Oppo, Vivo, or even the Indonesian Apptoko have a significant presence in this region. Actually, many of these stores use Catappult as a source of content, which makes it easier for developers to distribute their app in several stores with one single account. 

Monetizing Apps

Monetization of apps in Southeast Asia varies based on each country, being app ads the preferred option among app developers. Of the app publishers, 58% from Indonesia, 42% from Thailand, and 40% from Singapore adopt the use of in-app ads to make money. 

However, due to the above-mentioned increase in purchase power in countries like Indonesia, Thailand, or Malaysia, more developers are offering in-app purchases as a monetization method for the apps they distribute in Southeast Asian markets.  

When compared to Western countries, the app distribution market in SEA countries seems to be on blooming. Hence, it is a region full of opportunities for developers to explore. It goes as far as how creative individuals and companies are to make do of this region. The ability to bring these points to perspective and work on it can help change the pocket size of several app developers. 

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