The rise of the Asia as a region for sustainable app distribution is clearly evident. According to the latest Distimo Report, the download volume in the Apple App Store for iPhone from Asian countries grew significantly in the past six months. In fact, the report suggests that China has recently became the second largest market after the United States.

Now may be the time for iPhone developers who are mainly focused on the U.S. and Europe to reconsider Asia. A surge in download volume could be observed while download volumes in other countries such as France and Germany have declined since December.

Distimo’s report, which covers the Apple App Store downloads specifically for iPhone during May 2011, focuses on insights in market trends that are relevant for developers who want to grow their business in the Asia.

Here are some of the major findings from the report:

South Korea tops downloads, both paid and free

Proportion Of Regional Popular Only Applications 520x233 Asia surges in iPhone App Store downloads, China now second biggest market after U.S.

According to the report, the download volume in South Korea tops Asia despite the small population size of the country compared to China and India. This is very surprising considering unlike in other countries where without exception Games is the most popular category, most U.S. games are still not available in South Korea due to local regulations. This highlights the potential of non-Games in Asia, especially in South Korea.

Asians are not as fond of the in-app purchase model

Asian Market Characteristics 520x391 Asia surges in iPhone App Store downloads, China now second biggest market after U.S.

While the download volumes in Asia increased in general, revenue still lags behind that of the United States and Europe due to the low proportion of paid downloads to free ones. Additionally, Asians are not as open to the idea of in-app purchases as most Western countries so developers have to look for other ways of monetization such as advertising or offering premium versions of apps.

U.S. and Asia share the same popular categories of app downloads

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A comparison of the most popular categories between the U.S. and Asia revealed that there are no significant differences between content preferences — Games and Entertainment are the top categories in both, while social networking, photography and utilities trail close behind.

Content needs to be localized to be successful in Asia

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Finally, most of the apps in Distimo’s list of the top iPhone applications in Asia are only popular in their respective countries. This applies to countries that are not as fond of speaking in English such as China, South Korea, and Japan; while in countries like India and Indonesia, worldwide popular applications still make it to the top.