App developers spearhead vibrant Thai market for mobile content

Tech January 18, 2016 09:49

By ASIA Porwnasin
THE NATION

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GLOBAL MOBILE |APP SUMMIT AND AWARDS IN BANGKOK THIS MONTH



MOBILE-APP developers continue to play a crucial role in making Thailand a vibrant market for mobile content. Their new monetisation strategies focus more on new forms of native advertising that go beyond just the traditional banner ad.
According to US market research and advisory firm Gartner, 46 per cent of app users paid for their apps, and the expected download numbers are 268 billion by the end of 2016, generating US$77 billion (Bt2.8 trillion) in revenue. The app economy also produces more jobs in the United States than Hollywood - 627,000 for iOS alone. As of the first quarter of 2015, iOS App Store worldwide revenue was about 70 per cent higher than on Google Play.
The latest global survey on mobile applications and app developers suggests there were 2.3 million app developers on the planet in 2013, around 760,000 of whom live in Asia.
CR Venkatesh, managing director and chief executive officer of Dot Com Infoway, an organiser of the Global Mobile App Summit and Awards (GMASA), said Thai mobile-app developers continued to play a crucial role in making this country a vibrant market for mobile content. Local developers inarguably have better understanding of what Thais prefer, so the key is to translate such knowledge creatively into localised applications that yield not only usability but also great user experience. 
With the expected growth in the smartphone sales, there is tremendous potential for app developers. 
Venkatesh foresees great growth potential in the Thai market for mobile apps and generating jobs for a lot more developers. Total revenue from mobile games in Thailand reached $93.5 million in 2014 and should increase to almost $300 million by next year. Mobile currently makes up more than 40 per cent of all games revenue in Thailand, and this share is expected to pass 60 per cent in 2017.
"When we think about Thailand, what we see are beautiful beaches, Thai food, tourist hot spots and lovely temples. The less-known fact is the mobile ecosystem. Thailand is the second-largest economy in Southeast Asia and also one of the fastest-growing mobile games market in SEA," he said.
Therefore, "GMASA Bangkok 2016" is set to attract the top digital visionaries, tech specialists, entrepreneurs and marketing experts from across Thailand, Asean and the world as they gather for an in-depth one-day event on January 22.
"GMASA features lively, thought-provoking debates and a unique platform in the mobile industry for participants and attendees to come together and share new ideas in an engaging, focused and interactive environment," Venkatesh said.
GMASA Bangkok 2016 will be held at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit. 
He added that mobile apps had been gaining rising popularity due to the advancement in mobile technologies, Internet penetration and the large increase in the number of smartphone users. Consequently, several app distribution platforms, which provide an innovative way for developing, downloading, and updating software applications in contemporary mobile devices, have emerged to aid the success of the platform. 
Games continue to rule the mobile-app revenue space with solid and firm growth in the user base. Game developers are also monetising their apps differently from the rest of the app economy, with advertising (87 per cent), in-app/virtual purchases (53 per cent) and paid app downloads (38 per cent), all significantly up on other verticals.
However, the trends in the mobile-app industry this year also include social networking, location-based services, mobile search, apps with Focus on sensor, and mobile payment systems.
The social-networking category is the fastest-growing and most demanded, while location-based services have been the recent trend for success in the mobile-app industry. 
Mobile search for e-commerce and the re-targeting capabilities based on data have seen enormous growth of late, while apps with Focus on sensor and processing capabilities have stood up to expectations. Demand for mobile payment systems is booming as NFC (near field communication) is getting more popular around the globe. 
"The mobile universe and the app economy are growing so fast and evolving so rapidly. In 2012, the global app economy accounted for 18 per cent of the combined app-services and handset market. We estimate that [this year] the contribution of the app economy will rise to 33 per cent of the combined market, equivalent to half of the handset market," Venkatesh said.
However, he added that the government should support the app industry. A few governments do provide support for app developers wishing to take local content global. The growth of the local app market can provide more employment, in turn contributing to gross domestic product.