Gaming apps more popular in Mexico than Japan

New report shows which types of apps are most popular across the globe

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
February 21, 2013
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Apps are big business these days, with cumulative revenue brought in by mobile apps was expected to pass $30 billion last year. And with China recently knocking off the U.S. as the global leader in smart devices, apps are growing internationally as well. 

So what are developers to do with such a huge, expanding market? Do users in Mexico use apps the same way as people in India or Japan? What kinds of apps are most popular in each specific country?

To help with this problem, Flurry has released a new report on the behavior of the 30 heaviest app using countries. By analyzing the top 20,000 apps in each country, as of January, Flurry focused on those categories used by at least 5% in each. Social networking apps were excluded "since use of those apps tends to be more country-specific."

To make it easier to categorize, Flurry grouped some of the countries together that had similar app category usage.

These are the six clusters:

  • Mobile Pioneers: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States
  • Connected Asia: Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan
  • Equatorial Pacific: Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Phillipines, Thailand, Vietnam
  • Lumber Giants: Brazil, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey
  • China
  • Japan


When it comes to gaming on Android devices, arcade and action games make up the most popular category, no matter which region of the world is being looked at.

These types of games are so popular in the Equatorial Pacific, with over 35% of users playing them, that those countries have around twice the usage in this category than users in Japan, which has less than 20%. China came in second in the category, the only other cluster that had over 30% of users. 

The Mobile Pioneers cluster was the second least likely to play arcade and action games, but were the countries where casual and brain & puzzle games were most popular. Japan came in last in both of those categories too.

On iOS devices, the Equatorial Pacific region once again topped all other regions, though the competition was a bit closer than it was on Android. 

In terms of overall games, Equatorial Pacific just beat out the Mobile Pioneers category, while, yet again, Japan came in last.

The same was true of iOS action games, where China came out ahead, but Japan finally got to shine when it came to iOS music games, a category where China barely has a presence at all.

Japan is a country that is fairly well known for its gaming, but perhaps this does not extend to mobile devices. The biggest surprise is how popular gaming is with the Equatorial Pacific cluster, as countries like Mexico and Malaysia are not those that come to mind when I think about gaming. These are emerging markets and game developers could potentially do well by catering to those regions.

Utility and Productivity Apps

While Japan may be less into gaming than other regions, people in the country are big users of utility and productivity apps, as are users in China.

Utility apps are those that typically help the user, like the calculator or the weather app. They can also include apps that help conserve battery life or test the Internet speed on the device.

Productivity apps are those that help users... be more productive. These are apps like Evernote, Catch and Google Drive, which are all designed to make it easier to keep track of documents and notes by saving them to the cloud. 

Lifestyle and Entertainment Apps

Android users in the Connected Asia cluster are big fans of the operating systems's entertainment apps, but the number of users on the Android Photography app barely scratches the surface. Chinese users have opposite interests, disproportionately using the Photography app, but barely touching the Entertainment apps.

The same is true with photography apps on iOS as well, with China clearly coming out ahead. For whatever reason, Chinese users really seem to love taking pictures, so there is obviously a big opportunity there for developers. 

On iOS, Connected Asia once again beat the competition for Entertainment apps, but do not use photography at all. The Equatorial Pacific cluster also sees the same result on Android and iOS.


Information like this can be invaluable to app developers. While they might have been catering to the needs of the biggest markets, like the U.S. and the U.K., this data shows that there are untapped regions of the world with different usage patterns.

Photography apps are more popular in China than they are in other regions, for example, while gaming apps seems to be less popular in Japan but more popular in other regions of Asia. 

"Differences such as these suggest that app developers in Mobile Pioneer countries may need to give greater consideration to the usage patterns and preferences of those in other countries or else that we may see growing app developer communities in some of those other countries," Flurry wrote in the report.

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