The world of mobile apps is experiencing an ongoing surge, with North America standing tall as a dominant player and the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region witnessing explosive growth. As we delve into this new wave of global growth in mobile marketing, it’s evident that improved mobile infrastructure, affordable smartphones and a burgeoning middle class user base are driving innovation and opportunities, especially in emerging markets, where, for example, shopping apps have jumped in popularity.
North America has long been a powerhouse in the mobile app market. With giants like Apple and Google headquartered here, it’s no surprise that the region’s app market is projected to generate a staggering $273 billion by 2027. This continued growth can be attributed to several factors, including a robust tech ecosystem, high smartphone penetration and a strong culture of app adoption. North American companies have been at the forefront of app development, creating innovative solutions that cater to various aspects of daily life, from communication to entertainment and productivity.
While North America maintains its dominance, the APAC region is undergoing a transformative phase in the mobile app industry. The combination of improved mobile infrastructure and the availability of affordable smartphones has fuelled remarkable growth. In 2022, the number of mobile internet users in the APAC region reached 1.29 billion, a significant leap from the 700 million users recorded in 2015. Much of this growth can be attributed to the emergence of the INSEA region.
Improved mobile infrastructure and affordability
The development of 4G and 5G networks has played a pivotal role in facilitating the growth of the mobile app market in INSEA. Faster and more reliable internet connections have opened doors to a plethora of possibilities, from streaming high-quality content to seamless online gaming and remote work opportunities.
Likewise, the affordability of smartphones in the APAC region has democratized access to technology. Chinese manufacturers like Huawei and Oppo have produced budget-friendly yet feature-rich devices, allowing a broader population to participate in the digital ecosystem. This affordability factor has contributed significantly to the increase in mobile internet users. APAC’s expanding middle class also has more disposable income, driving a surge in demand for smartphones and app-related services. This demographic shift is reshaping consumer behavior, with a growing preference for digital solutions across sectors.
After the Covid-19 pandemic, we are starting to see many mobile app categories like travel make a comeback. Interestingly, more than 80% of the population in APAC already have travel apps on their devices, underscoring the regional interest in travel. Mobile gaming is also growing strong in the region and is expected to hit 1.37 billion users in Asia by 2027.
To better understand global opportunity, Adjust recently introduced a Growth Score metric, specifically created to assess the capabilities and prospects of apps and app marketing across regions, countries, and markets. In 2023, mobile gaming apps exhibited the highest performance across all verticals following a strong recovery after a difficult 2022, significantly boosting their overall Growth Score. Globally, shopping apps earned the second-highest Growth Score, trailed by travel, finance, and food and drink apps.
Emerging markets for marketers to take note
Emerging markets are ripe with opportunities for mobile marketers looking to expand their user base and drive not only user acquisition, but the opportunity to reach high lifetime value users. These markets, characterized by large populations and increasing access to smartphones, present a unique landscape for growth marketing.
With a population of over 1.3 billion, India is a prime target for app developers and marketers. The Digital India initiative, launched in 2015, has significantly boosted internet penetration, making it a hotbed for app usage in sectors spanning education to e-commerce.
There are a multitude of opportunities in India for app marketers to connect with users and drive growth, especially during key celebratory events like Diwali, where shopping app installs spike and lifestyle apps see increased usage.
Interestingly, with 209 million mobile gamers expected in India by the end of this year, it’s shaping up to be one of the best countries to launch a mobile game with revenues projected to hit $390 million by 2023 in the region.
As noted earlier, Southeast Asia countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines are also experiencing rapid urbanization and an increase in smartphone adoption. These markets offer immense potential for apps from e-commerce to entertainment. Digging in by vertical, we’ve found that shopping apps are the second-fastest growing category in the region, followed by mobile gaming, finance apps rank and utility apps.
Unlocking growth opportunities
Improved mobile infrastructure and affordable smartphones have played a pivotal role in reshaping the digital landscape, creating vast opportunities for app developers and marketers. Understanding the potential growth in different app categories and regions is vital when devising and expanding campaigns.
We know that the APAC region can offer immediate value while markets like Europe and North America also provide significant opportunities for expansion. And while the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey (MENAT) as well as Latin America (LATAM) might have lower Growth Scores than other regions, this should not deter mobile marketers from investing in these markets. Instead, it requires tailoring user acquisition campaigns to local needs and revenue drivers in each country and utilizing comprehensive, actionable data and tools that facilitate quick, informed decision-making.
Monitoring the growth of your user base is crucial. As the mobile app market continues to evolve, companies that adapt to these changing dynamics will be best positioned to thrive and drive new users in this ever-expanding global ecosystem.