App stores are gaining ground in emerging markets in Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa, as smartphone penetration increases and users “seek a richer experience on their mobile devices”, analyst firm Ovum said.
The increased penetration of smartphones and mobile broadband, as well as falling service and device prices, has “translated into an expansion in the use of mobile applications in emerging markets”. In addition, operators see app stores as a key tool in growing subscriber bases and driving network usage, the company said.
While smartphone users are attractive targets for emerging market operators, because they are early adopters and typically have a higher disposable income than average consumers, the majority of apps are free or low cost, as consumers have shown an unwillingness to pay for them.
Richard Hurst, senior analyst for Telecoms Emerging Markets at Ovum, said: “Device and OS vendors will look to establish themselves as the leading providers of apps in emerging markets, emulating the position that they occupy in developed markets. However, in countries such as China, India, Brazil and South Africa, MNOs with strong app store propositions will fight to defend their positions”.