This chart explains why Apple CEO Tim Cook went to China recently to launch Apple’s new deal with wireless carrier China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile carrier. Apple is basically getting its butt kicked right across Asia in terms of app revenue and usage, according to new data from Distimo, the mobile app market research company :
We’ve annotated the Distimo chart in green. These (above) are the top six countries in Asia ranked by Apple App Store and Google Play Revenue. Now compare the dominant market share that Android has over there with the way the market breaks down in the U.S.:
Apple and its iPhones and iPads remain the dominant mobile platform in North America, but even here Android is making progress.
Nonetheless, the East and West live in two different worlds when it comes to phones: Americans have iPhone and Asians have Android.
China will be the key battleground if Apple is to turn back this tide.
Although the top chart appears to show that Apple rules China, it doesn’t include Android’s share. That’s because China is weird. Instead of using the Google Play store for apps, the Chinese prefer the Wandoujia search platform, a market which offers non-Google Chinese Android apps. There are perhaps 300 million users on Wandoujia. Only 3.5% of Chinese Android users use Google Play.
Apple’s Cook recently claimed that iOS (the Apple mobile operating system) claims 57% of mobile platform usage in China. It’s not clear where he got that number from. “Who am I to question Tim Cook?” says Anne Hezemans, the author of the Distimo report, but “it seems a bit much.” She believes the Chinese app market is probably split fairly evenly between Wandoujia and the Apple App store.
If it is the case that Wandoujia is the weaker app offering than Google Play, then China is Apple’s best bet at winning the war against Google in Asia. Because Wandoujia is a non-international app market, it may indeed turn out to be weaker than Android’s global Play store. But it’s not a given: Distimo also notes that of the top 10 app downloads in China for both Apple and Wandoujia, only one app is non-Chinese — Angry Birds.
Cook has a ways to go before Apple conquers China. When he appeared at an Apple store in Beijing to launch the iPhone on China Wireless, only a dozen people showed up to the event. If Cook had made the same appearance in the U.S., the lines would have been round the block.