Why App Developers Should Appeal to Emerging Markets

Understanding that apps are released across multiple locations at different times, it pays to do some research. I have been checking out a few emerging markets over the past couple years and believe that it’s worth looking into. Check out a few reasons below:

There’s two things you need to know when it comes to app development in emerging markets, why you should consider it, and what you can do to tap into it. In 2015 it was predicted that there would be over 6.1 billion smartphone users, most of which would not be living in North America. Now as a Calgary mobile app developer, it’s important to know who exactly your app is going to be targeting and that includes location. Here’s a few stats that may pique your interest:

Why Consider Anywhere Outside the US?

by 2019 China will have roughly 687.7 million users, and India will have 317 million users – eMarketer

In 2015, India had 160 million smartphone users, with a strong projection to get larger year after year. Guess what was the most popular type of phone in India? Samsung devices. There are over 150 types of smartphone devices available in India including Indian specific brands such as Micromax. If the people of India are already purchasing the exact same types of phones you and I have, then why not consider checking out the Indian market?

Over in Latin America, we saw one of the worlds largest sales for new smartphones. In 2014, over 109 million units were sold in the region making Latin America one of the biggest smartphone markets that year. What did both of these countries have in common? Millennials. Millennials were by far the biggest audience making smartphone purchases in each country. The reason was simple, it was a fast and easy way to connect to the internet. Sounds very familiar to the Canadian and American markets.

In India it was found that the average millennial spent 2.2 hours per day browsing social media, surfing the internet, or watching videos. Although millennials may not have as much buying power or business etiquette as baby boomers or generation X, they are still instrumental to the development, trend, and shape of technology in their respective area. Most millennials tend to catch onto technology a lot quicker than any other generation and that is why app developers in foreign countries have been trying to tap into educating young families through technology. Latin American business leaders project that millennials will help to influence the use of apps and help to shape the app during development.

In China did you know there are over 200 different types of app stores? I thought I was overwhelmed when I saw the Google Play store and the Samsung App store. There is a certain appeal to having different app stores in different locations. It can help your app to be found in certain regions a lot easier than simply throwing it into the ocean of apps in the Google Play store. A different app store also helps with localized payment methods and currency (if required) on an app store that the smartphone users of the country trust.

In 2015 there was over 525.8 million smartphone users in China. In India there were 167 million smartphone users. Experts have determined that by 2019 China will have roughly 687.7 million users, and India will have 317 million users. That is a huge leap for both smartphone markets! Here’s a couple quick tips on how you can tap into the international app market.

How to Appeal to Emerging Market Smartphone Users

Hopefully a few of the user numbers mentioned in the previous post interested you. If so, you’re probably curious as to how exactly you would go about appealing to that specific country. As a Calgary mobile app developer, we know how to create an app and market it locally, not necessarily how to market it in every country around the world. So please only take our advice as suggestions.

Incorporate Culturally Specific Features

There are a ton of differences when it comes to your app market vs another country’s. You can’t simply throw your app into a foreign app store and expect it to succeed. Things like language, geography, influential people, etc, will likely be very different in other countries. If your app is geared towards Elvis Presley for example, it might do well here, but Elvis may be unheard of in another country.

Also keep in mind the primary method of communication, we may email and text primarily in North America, but in other countries, external apps such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Path, QQ, etc may be used more commonly. This is important to consider when adding different types of sharing functionality to your app.

When it comes to building your app idea sometimes making a near “copycat” imitation of an existing app isn’t such a bad idea, let me explain. An app called Snow is extremely popular in Korea even though it is nearly identical to Snapchat. The reason for this is because Snow has gone out of its way to appeal to Korean smartphone users and offers features that are far more geared towards the Asian market than Snapchat is.

Utility Apps

In 2015 utility apps were the second most popular download in many countries such as India, Brazil, and Indonesia. This indicates that the sort of apps people are looking for in these countries is geared towards helping manage their devices. In countries such as this, budget smartphones are by far the more popular choice. It may be a bit lighter on the wallet for purchase but it certainly doesn’t have the same memory and battery capacity as higher tiered smartphones do. Utility apps that help preserve battery life, increase memory, improve speed, and block viruses have an extremely high chance of being popular in foreign countries where budget phones are popular.

The Maximalist Approach

When it comes to mobile app development in North America, it’s found that the simpler the app is to use, the better. This is absolutely not the case in other countries. Most countries in fact, are looking for as many “all in one” apps as they can get their hands on. In China for example, three companies (Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent) have competed to see who can create a single app with the most features. I’m not sure if this is because the company skipped over the credit card and personal computer era and jumped head first into the smartphone era but the fact is people in China absolutely love it. One of the more popular apps called “WeChat” combines Whatsapp, Twitter, Facebook, Paypal, Shazam, Viber, and Uber, into one app.

China isn’t the only one hopping on board the high functionality train. The Netherlands, Japan, and Korea also have too many apps to mention that have extremely high functionality for absolutely every digital aspect of their life.


As a final point it’s also important to note that the market in North American apps is extremely saturated. Although there might be a ton of great apps out there, there is still a ton. It is speculated by developers that there is still a ton of opportunity to bring new apps over to international app markets. Your app could be among them. If you have a solid app idea that you think would do extremely well in North America or beyond then please visit the Contact section of the website. Our talented team of developers would love to sit down with you and discuss your next app idea. If the popularity of smartphones is on the rise, doesn’t it make sense to get your app involved?