The “app superpowers” of Japan, South Korea and the US collectively generated more revenue in 2014 than the rest of the world combined, highlighting their ability to monetise even as the market saturates and download growth slows, according to App Annie’s review of the year.

Brazil, Russia, India and China are now “appealing for their monetisation potential as well as their expansive audience”, after growing combined revenue by more than 120 per cent over the twelve months. For this year, the analyst firm is forecasting strong performances from Indonesia, Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam, as “continued investment in telecommunication infrastructure in these emerging markets should set the stage for rapid growth in their mobile economies”.


Top apps and games
In terms of top apps, Facebook was the clear winner by downloads, with Facebook Messenger, Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram landing the top four spots for worldwide iOS and Google Play downloads (not including games). The top ten included a number of other apps which feature communications as a core theme, including Skype (Microsoft), Viber (Rakuten) Line, Twitter and Snapchat.

In terms of games, King’s Candy Crush Saga was number one, with King also being the only publisher to have two titles in the top ten (Farm Heroes Saga is number four).

When it comes to revenue, the picture is slightly different. LINE was top app, with LINE Play in third place, sandwiching Pandora Radio in number two. LINE Manga also secured a top-ten ranking, and the Disney Tsum Tsum app for LINE also appeared in the top ten games by revenue, indicating the strength of its broad portfolio.

Top revenue generating game was Supercell’s Clash of Clans, with Hay Day from the same publisher also securing a top-ten place. Candy Crush Saga was third in revenue terms, with Farm Heroes Saga in seventh.

Apps transforming travel
Downloads of the top 10 travel and transportation apps grew by more than 30 per cent in download terms, as titles “turn the taxi industry on its head”. Companies such as Uber and Lyft have secured “large user bases and even larger valuations”.

Companies in this sector are also looking to strategic partnerships to drive adoption, with App Annie citing Uber’s integration with Google Maps and Lyft’s partnership with crowdsourcing public transport app Moovit.

Mobile video gaining ground
A number of factors have also lead to an increase in the popularity of mobile video ads. In China especialy, increased availability of high-speed data, more generous data plans, and the move towards larger phones screen sizes helped drive mobile viewing “sharply up”.

In Europe, providing localised content has proved “vital” to Netflix’s success, and for many TV networks and operators, a strong app is a “vital component of successful viewer retention strategies”.

In addition, some content providers are unbundling themselves from pay TV operators, with App Annie noting that sports apps such as, At Bat, NFL GamePass and BoxNation deliver content directly to users without third party restriction – a trend that is likely to continue during 2015.