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“Made for Taiwan”: the next billion-dollar app market

Labelled the next billion dollar market for app developers, Taiwan shows less bias towards regionally based publishers, an unusual trait for an Asian market.

Published onJune 26, 2016

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While the smartphone market may be slowly plateauing worldwide, the app market is still on the increase. As App Annie has noted previously, “all companies need to view themselves as app publishers, irrespective of their mobile strategy”. While the significance of apps for the future of engagement is clear, one thing that’s not always as clear is the best way to target new audiences, or indeed, where to find the next big untapped market.

Play Store growth projected to explode at four times the rate of Apple's App Store

App Annie has an answer for that one too: Taiwan. In a new post, the app market analysts peg Taiwan as the next billion-dollar market for app publishers. While Asian markets typically prefer Asian-developed apps – for their cultural awareness and sensitivity to Asian UI tastes – Taiwan stands out as a big market that also happens to be quite amenable to Western apps.

Regional bias

As App Annie notes, “some app economies, like Asia, tend to favor locally produced apps, as their publishers are more attuned to cultural preferences and references. This can make it much tougher for Western apps to see success in Asian app markets, as the level of localization and culturalization required to succeed can be cost-prohibitive”.

It can be much tougher for Western apps to see success in Asian app markets, as the level of localization and culturalization required to succeed can be cost-prohibitive.

For developers looking to break into a new market, low risk entry with potential for high yields is critical. Localizing apps can be massively expensive, and even then there’s no guarantee of success. Having a single app that appeals as broadly as possible is a much better approach, and Taiwan looks to be the next big market on which app developers should focus.

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Untapped Taiwan

Taiwan currently has a smartphone penetration of 78% and in 2015, jumped to the number four spot on Google Play’s revenue chart. Game developing behemoths like Supercell – which was recently acquired by Chinese conglomerate Tencent – and King, maker of Candy Crush, have succeeded in Taiwan, but so too have smaller studios. App Annie notes this is because “Taiwanese gamers are accustomed to micro-transactions occurring within gameplay.”

While Japan, China and Korea all represent key Asian markets for app publishers to consider, App Annie considers Taiwan to be the “easier market to crack”. Taiwan’s contribution to Google Play’s app revenue also came in at 1.3 times that of the Apple App Store (for the 12-month period ending May 2016) and Taiwan enjoys a top-10 ranking for LTE infrastructure, making mobile gaming even more accessible to the masses.

Taiwan is a foreign-friendly app market with less bias toward regionally based publishers.

While localization and culturalization are still important factors to consider, app developers looking to enter an Asian market without the financial clout to heavily adapt their apps should consider Taiwan first. Labelled a “foreign-friendly app market with less bias toward regionally based publishers,” we may well start seeing more and more games “made for Taiwan”.

What do you think is the secret to global app market success?

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