We’ve already plotted China Mobile’s massive growth (which is actually slowing) and new figures released by the operator show that its Mobile Market (MM) app store is huge too. An announcement confirms that it had close to 150 million registered users in November, according to a posting from Beijing-based Marbridge Consulting.
Despite capping 149 million users, MM saw its growth slacken in November but it still added an impressive 10 million new users during the month. MM has 102,000 games and applications on sale, and they have been downloaded 490 million times to date. During November alone, more 30 million items were downloaded from the store.
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The majority of downloads in the story are priced under 3 RMB ($0.50) or free, and this range accounted for 87 percent of items purchased in November. The average cost of a download was 2 RMB ($0.30), which rises to 6.3 RMB ($1.00) for games and drops to 0.8 RMB ($0.13) for theme apps.
An operator app store may seem strange in the west but it is standard in China where smartphones users visit a range of different sources to get their apps. The big boys have had issues in the country too, Android Market had problems with Web access while Apple’s own store was restricted for Chinese users until recently.
Not content with serving the 640 million subscribers that make it the world’s largest operator, China Mobile announced its intention to expand its app store to cater for users across all mobile networks in the country.
The secret of China’s lucrative app space is well and truly out after a report from Distimo showed that Apple is making progress there, while Flurry found that the country’s mobile users are the world’s second biggest downloaders, behind the US, having seen an annual increase of 870 percent. This increased usage and desire for devices is also illustrated by the fact that China recently overtook America as the world’s largest smartphone market.
Apple has increased its efforts in the country, after it added support for pre-payments and the Chinese Renminbi, both of which should make the App Store more accessible to the Chinese population.
With the Cupertino-based firm set to introduce its first subsidised handset in China this week, albeit at an initially restrictive price, it is clear than China’s smartphone app market is just beginning to get going, although Apple’s mid- and low-range device touting rivals are likely to lead proceedings.