Is the Australian mobile market nearing saturation? After all, smartphone penetration percentage in the country grew by only 2% this year vis-a-vis 2014 (78% vs 76%), and a further 2% growth has been projected over the next couple of years. Whatever might be the answer to this question, one thing is for sure though – the mobile app market is showing no signs of slowdown whatsoever. In today’s discussion, we will highlight the major trends and figures among app developers in Australia:
- They are growing…and growing fast – An annual growth rate of 175%+ should be enough to prove this, but there are other figures to further highlight the white-hot mobile app revolution in Australia. The yearly value of the app industry is in excess of $300 million, and there are more than 400 mobile app companies in Australia. What’s more, well over 1600 developers are in this profession on a full-time basis. The app-makers’ contingent here is truly huge, and growing.
- The potential user-count is big – A key factor behind the success of Android and iPhone app developers in Australia is the strong demand levels. Nearly 3 out of every 4 smartphone users Down Under download mobile apps regularly. The popularity of apps is, however not uniform across age groups – with youngsters in the 18-25 age group being the more ‘heavy’ users (85% people in this age group download applications). The smartphone usage figure falls to around 26% among individuals who are of 65 or more years of age. Only 1 out of 10 of these users (on average) are regular downloaders of mobile apps.
- It’s all about social networking and games – There has been a spurt in the last year or so, in the number of social networking applications churned out by mobile app developers in Australia. The reason for this is the burgeoning popularity of such apps – with close to 70% users fond of using at least one of such applications (those in the 16-24 age group, once again, love these apps the most). Mobile game development companies in Australia have also upped their game, with gaming apps coming in second in terms of popularity. Apps with web browser support are a close third, while direction/navigation apps take up the fourth spot.
- Sydney has emerged as the hub – Most important Australian cities have a fair few mobile app development companies – but Sydney is the runaway leader (with over 55% of the total mobile app startups in the country being located here). The professional success of the developers here – with many of them bagging prestigious awards – has only encouraged many new entrepreneurs to get their feet wet in the mobile app business. If you are looking to find a good iOS or Android developer in Australia, you are almost certain to find several in Sydney!
- Apps are beneficial for everyone – A strong sign that the mobile app market in Australia is a developed one is the fact that – nearly everyone can identify at least one key benefit that regular app-usage provides them with. For some, it is the ease with which custom apps facilitate mobile shopping and m-banking. The fact that apps provide instantaneous access to the information/service that users are seeking is also an important factor behind their popularity. What’s more – most app developers in Australia create applications that retain their functionality offline. Even when a user does not have wifi network coverage on his/her device, (s)he can still keep using his/her favourite apps.
- Making apps for wearables has picked up momentum – In 2015, around 80 million wearable devices were sold in Australia. The buzz around Apple Watch has definitely helped in pushing up this figure – and the release of watchOS 2 has helped WatchKit developers create more, and better, apps. According to a Forrester report, the wearables segment of the mobile industry grew by over 220% in 2014 – and the figure is likely to increase significantly this year.
- Word-of-mouth publicity is vital for app marketing – Well, it is vital for developers anywhere to put prime emphasis on user-experience, while developing apps. In Australia, this factor is all the more prominent – since nearly 60% smartphone users look around to their friends, family members and other acquaintances for their opinions on an app, before they decide to download it. In comparison, only about 40% people consider app store reviews as the biggest influencing factor. The message is clear enough – if an app is not up to user-expectations at the first go, it is likely to find the going tough in future.
- Who creates apps in Australia? – A very interesting point. The number of dedicated mobile app entrepreneurs is relatively small here – and people from diverse backgrounds create Android or iOS applications. Right from graphic designing and mobile marketing, to software development and investment & venture capital – app developers in Australia hail from many different domains. Even youngsters with a knack for coding are making their foray into app development – and many of their products are finding widespread acceptance too.
- The iOS vs Android fight – For the first time ever, Android phones (with around 55% sales) overtook iPhones (sales have fallen to less than 45%) in 2015. The rest of the market is taken up by Windows Phones. Interestingly though, Australia still boasts of the second-highest penetration of iOS devices in the world (behind Japan), and Apple is comfortably the most popular smartphone brand in the country (the popularity of Android gets divided among its many vendors). The demand for expert Android developers in Australia is growing, although iPhone apps have more or less maintained their steady demand levels.
- Apps are taking the place of websites – A recent survey revealed that 70% people in Australia use mobile apps for social networking purposes, while a measly 20% use websites for the same purpose (this distribution is similar across males and females). Even among senior people, among whom app-usage is the least, over 45% use social networking applications, and around 18% rely on websites.
- NFC has taken the mobile industry in Australia by storm – Apple Pay is a huge success, and Android Pay (unlike its predecessor, the disappointing Google Wallet) holds out many promising features. Together, they have bulked up the popularity of near-field-communication (NFC) technology in Australia. In figures, the annual growth of NFC in Australia has been more than 350% over the last two years. It has been projected that over 50% of smartphone users in Australia will be using mobile wallets by the end of 2017. App developers, not surprisingly, are turning their attention to making applications with NFC support.
- The usage concerns that developers need to handle – With great penetration, comes the threat of serious security breaches (to borrow and modify a quote from a famous superhero film). According to general users as well as mobile app development experts in Australia, there is a general wariness regarding sharing personal information on applications. The onus is on developers to convince users regarding the reliability of their apps’ security features. In-app purchases, location-sharing information and accidental downloads (often a cause for concern in mobile apps for kids) are also factors that the app-makers have to handle very carefully. Two other absolute ‘no-no’-s for app developers in Australia are: a) making apps that hog too much of mobile data, and b) including in-app ads that hamper user-experience.
The compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of the mobile app industry in Australia (till 2015-16) is in excess of 25% – something that the app developers in the country can take a lot of heart from. The country occupies the 5th spot in terms of revenues for app developers – behind USA, Japan, UK, and China. Mobile app development is a thriving business in Australia – and all indicators point to further, and rapid, growth of this domain in the foreseeable future.