Egypt Leads MENA Emerging Markets in App Opportunities

Alexis Baghdadi, May 12 2016

Egyptian icons image via Shutterstock

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App publishers are turning away from highly developed and competitive markets to focus on emerging ones. Thanks to the rapid smartphone penetration and improvements in IT and telecom infrastructure, consumers in these markets have moved from being mobile-aware to mobile-first.

Combined with large populations, emerging markets present attractive opportunities for app publishers across sectors.

Market Leaders Today and Tomorrow

According to The Next Horizon of Emerging App Markets report by App Annie, the number of app downloads in emerging markets – particularly BRIC countries – is quickly catching up with figures in top developed countries.

In 2015 app store revenues in Chinese-speaking and Middle Eastern markets saw considerable growth, according to App Annie. With rising levels of development and competitiveness in these markets, publishers are turning their attention to other low-hanging fruits in 2016. App Annie believes Thailand, Vietnam, Argentina, and Egypt are the top markets to watch in 2016.

Why Egypt Matters

Even as Egypt’s telecom infrastructure is undergoing transformation, the rapid rate of smartphone penetration is driving growth in the app market. From 2014 to 2015, app downloads increased by as high as 60%, while app revenues grew by 40%.

App Annie found that the country’s app market is dominated by Google Play, and outlined the top app categories by downloads.

#1 Tools:

For now, Chinese publishers like Cheetah Mobile, Qihoo 360, Holaverse, and Baidu dominate this category, leveraging their ability to rapidly satisfy demand for such apps by users of Android phones (particularly lower-end devices).

#2 Messaging:

5 messaging apps rank among Egypt’s top 12 apps by downloads. This is unusual but expected in an emerging market where competitors have a wider range. Alongside Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger, Viber and LINE enjoy a strong presence, and imo.im (founded by former Google employees) is also a contender.

#3 m-Commerce:

m-Commerce is a smaller sector in emerging markets, but shows promise in Egypt. Current leaders in the space include regional e-commerce retailers such as Souq.com, Jumia, and the C2C marketplace OpenSooq. But newcomers like the price comparison site Yaoota.com, as well as new foreign players eventually entering the market, are expected to increase competition.

app annie

The Right App Ecosystem

Advertisers are increasingly looking into mobile channels for their campaigns. This reliable source of revenue could encourage app publishers to market new apps.

Moreover, Google Play’s new pricing options for emerging markets (lowering minimum app prices in these markets to around a quarter of the minimum for US and European ones) means app owners and publishers can maximize their acquisition of paying customers.

Localization is the last piece of the puzzle for app developers and publishers entering new emerging markets. Apps will have to factor in the limited bandwidth in these markets and adjust for optimal performance. Of course, apps should also be adapted to each country’s cultural and behavioral characteristics.

See related:

The App Opportunity for Businesses in MENA - Analysis

MENA Hungry for Mobile Apps - ArabNet App Trends Report

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