The global reach of Chinese apps: Uncovering lucrative markets and verticals
Chinese-developed mobile apps are continuing to make waves in the global market, with many focusing on international success from the get-go. This starkly contrasts the traditional approach of measuring app performance solely in its home market. In fact, the top-grossing apps globally in 2022 were Chinese-developed apps, including TikTok, Honor of Kings, Genshin Impact, and PUBG Mobile, which earned over US$1 billion in revenue.
In this article, we’re building on our previous analysis and delving into the global reach of Chinese apps, and revealing the most lucrative markets and verticals driving the most impressive growth.
Three key takeaways
- Chinese apps have found significant success in Kenya, Myanmar, and Indonesia, with a large portion of all app installs coming from these countries.
- Chinese-developed apps have a strong presence in Vietnam and Nigeria's utility app market, as well as Pakistan's entertainment app market.
- Chinese gaming apps are making a significant impact in Southeast Asia and Russia, but the most impressive adoption rates are seen in Indonesia and the Philippines.
Chinese app distribution across countries
First, we’re taking a closer look at how many Chinese-developed apps in our sample are available in key global markets. Our data shows that 66% of these apps are available in the U.S., with 50% accessible in India and 40% in Brazil and the Philippines. Moving on, 38% of Chinese apps can be downloaded in Indonesia, and 35% in the U.K.
With the overall percentage of Chinese apps available in each country in mind, we also wanted to determine the proportion of total app installs that Chinese apps account for in each market.
Viewing the data from a different perspective reveals a major shift in the rankings. Interestingly, Kenya takes the lead with 27% of all apps installed being Chinese, Myanmar comes in second with 26%, followed by Indonesia with 23%, the Philippines with 22%, and Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam all with 19%.
Chinese apps dominate the utility app market in Vietnam and Nigeria
As we focus on specific app categories such as utilities, entertainment, and gaming, we can see which countries and markets are downloading most of these apps. Vietnam and Nigeria are leading the way in the utility app market share, with 39% of all utility app installs in Vietnam coming from Chinese apps. Nigeria follows closely with 35%, and Thailand with 27%. Pakistan also had 21% of utility app installs from Chinese apps, while Malaysia had 20%.
Pakistan sees a strong presence of Chinese apps in the entertainment market
The impact of Chinese entertainment apps is undeniable as their stronghold continues to expand across different regions. In Pakistan, Chinese apps account for 20% of entertainment installs. Meanwhile, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Egypt are not far behind, with 20%, 14%, and 12%, respectively. In Brazil and Colombia, which have strong trade ties with China, 6% of all entertainment app installs come from Chinese apps.
Chinese apps thrive in Indonesia and the Philippines’ mobile gaming industry
Chinese gaming apps are taking Southeast Asia by storm. Indonesia and the Philippines are leading the way, with an impressive 30% and 27% of all gaming downloads being Chinese-developed apps, respectively. This is followed closely by Malaysia at 23% and Thailand at 22%. Russian gamers have also caught on, with a 19% share of Chinese gaming apps, while Vietnam and Pakistan are close behind, at 18% and 17%, respectively.
But it's not just Southeast Asia and Russia embracing Chinese gaming apps. The UK and the U.S. have also jumped on board, where Chinese apps account for 8% of all gaming installs. And even Japan, known for its home-grown gaming industry, has 7% of gaming installs from Chinese apps. Brazil and Colombia are also significant players, with a substantial 13% and 11% download share from Chinese gaming apps.
How Chinese apps are winning in the global market
Chinese apps have made remarkable strides in the global market. How do they do it? They employ two key strategies that play an instrumental role in their success. Firstly, Chinese companies hyper-localize everything from their websites to apps—to ensure they cater to their target audience in the respective markets. Secondly, many Chinese companies leverage mobile analytics to measure and analyze in-app behavior. With this data, they deliver relevant messages to their target audiences to continually improve their user acquisition and retention strategies. By gaining a better understanding of their users, Chinese app marketers offer more personalized experiences, leading to higher engagement and a better overall user experience.
The global success of Chinese apps is an ongoing phenomenon, and the strategies will continue to develop and change in the future to meet the needs of the respective markets and app verticals. Chinese app developers and marketers who venture into foreign markets must be vigilant and adapt to the ever-changing global landscape to ensure their continued growth.
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