US app dominance on the wane in “post-PC era” – Flurry

US apps less dominant in “post-PC era” – Flurry

29 AUG 2013

The US is showing signs of losing its grip on the software industry as tablets and smartphones fly off the shelves at the expense of PC sales. At least that’s the view of Simon Khalaf, chief executive of Flurry – a mobile analytics firm – in a new blog

For a start, Khalaf points out that the percentage of mobile apps created in the US is shrinking. In 2011, 45 per cent share of all apps created worldwide originated in the US. By mid-2013 that had dropped to 36 per cent.

If apps are weighted by time (which takes into account user numbers and engagement), US-created apps still fare strongly. But this should not come as a surprise, argues Khalaf. The US is an “app pioneer country”, he says, and the sheer size of English-speaking populations naturally gives the US an advantage on this metric.

Even so, according to Flurry numbers, the weighted percentage of active apps made in the US (on a worldwide basis) fell from 75 per cent in 2011 to 70 per cent by June 2013.

There is perhaps a natural tendency for people to use apps developed in their own country, which is borne out by Flurry’s findings (see below). The US still does fairly well here. Nearly 60 per cent of the time US users spend in apps is done so with this those developed domestically. By contrast, however, China users spend nearly two-thirds of their time on home-grown apps.


And taking into account that US-made apps soaked up only 16 per cent of total time spent in apps in China, and given the size and growth rate of the Chinese app market, Khalaf anticipates that worldwide share of time spent in US-produced apps can reasonably be expected to shrink further.

Flurry’s boss reckons that while many US app developers are only starting to think about globalising their apps to appeal beyond their domestic market, this has been a near necessity for developers in some smaller countries right from the start. Again, this might put US developers at a disadvantage.

According to Flurry’s calculations, the likes of Finland, Denmark, Bulgaria and Slovenia are proving successful at creating global or “localizable” apps.

By measuring the impact of app developers in a given country (taking the total percentage of time users worldwide spend in apps developed in that country and then dividing it by the total percentage of apps developed in that country) Flurry says that a metric of 1.0 (or greater) indicates that apps developed in a given country command a disproportionate share of time. The bigger the number, the greater the impact of apps developed in that country. And each of these four smaller countries score above 1.0, with Finland chalking up an impressive tally in excess of 8.0 (helped by the success of Angry Birds, developed by Finland-based Rovio).

The US also scores above 1.0, but Khalaf says this is less impressive given the pervasiveness of American culture and the English language.


Flurry anticipates that the markets for apps and app development will become increasingly global, spurred on by three key factors

First, the App Store and Google Play take a lot of friction taken out of software distribution in the app world.

Second, the market is already very large and growing quickly in many parts of the world. In theory, developers anywhere can create apps for users anywhere.

Finally, the cost of development is still relatively inexpensive, especially if you factor in the average salary of software engineers in emerging markets. The cost of promotion is rising, acknowledges Khalaf, but total costs are still a fraction of the costs associated with the development, packaging, distribution, and marketing of packaged PC software.

Geography, concludes Flurry’s boss, is becoming increasingly irrelevant in the post-PC era.


Ken Wieland

Ken has been part of the MWC Mobile World Daily editorial team for the last three years, and is now contributing regularly to Mobile World Live. He has been a telecoms journalist for over 15 years, which includes eight...More

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