Mobile developers should consider turning their attention to Asia which is booming with mobile app downloads, according to a new report from app analytics firm Distimo.

The region now holds the second largest global app market – i.e. China – with South Korea not too far behind as it now outpaces Germany and France in app download volume.

The overall download volume in Asian countries has taken off in the past six months, while some Western countries actually saw less download volume over the same period. While the U.S. remains the leader for app downloads, Asian countries like India and Thailand have grown 27% and 40% respectively since December 2010.

Whilst China is now in second place in overall app downloads, South Korea actually outpaces China and Japan in download volume on a per capita basis. This comes despite the fact that the App Store in South Korea doesn’t include games because of local regulations… which is pretty remarkable when you consider that gaming is the most popular content in this region! 

Despite the massive opportunities, there are some difficulties for developers looking to tap the Asian market:

1. Monetization for apps is about two-thirds that of Western markets, in part because Asian consumers are one-third less likely to buy paid apps. That might also be a result of higher average selling prices for paid apps in this Asia.

2. Asian consumers are also less interested in in-app purchase, which is a key way for developers to make money on free apps. In China, for example, only 34 percent of the revenue from the 200 top grossing applications came from apps with in-app purchase, half that of the U.S.

3. Western developers must also consider the need to localize apps in Asian countries. Distimo found that 34% of the most popular apps in Asia are only popular within Asia, and some that are popular worldwide are of no interest in the region. The need for localization is more pronounced in countries like China, where 65% of the 300 most-popular free applications are popular only in the region.

When it comes to content, Asia is very similar to the rest of the world with games and entertainment being the two most popular categories – just like in the US.

However – although there are challenges of entering this market, the investment is likely to be worth it.

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