The iResearch Group announced that the rate of iOS downloads from China grew by 30% year by year from the first quarter of 2014. China is now world leader in terms of numbers. This confirms the trend in accelerating mobile usage in the world’s second largest economy that we reported on previously. However it is not unexpected given the current outreach to the rural consumer market by companies like Alibaba.
‘iOS’ is a shortened form of Apple’s ‘iPhone OS’ operating system. The company distributes it exclusively to its own devices. These include iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. Since the initial release in 2007 there have been approximately 75 billion iOS downloads to the estimated 1 billion devices sold.
Drivers behind High iOS Downloads Rate
App Annie’s senior vice-president Danielle Levitas released the news in Beijing during the global mobile internet conference. China’s percentage growth matched the U.S. (30%), but lagged behind Japan’s 50%. This indicates that Apple’s market penetration rate is not consistent globally. The success of Apple’s mobile offerings and the consequent rate of iOS downloads reflects the popularity of the operating system’s interfaces. These involve multi-touch, direct manipulation via swipes, taps and pinches using a combination of buttons, sliders and switches.
The company likes to stay ahead with annual iOS upgrades. It previously charged for iPod Touch ones prior to the release of iOS 4 in 2010 because ‘it was a one-off purchase’ and not a subscription device. Getting around the problem may be a contributor to China surging ahead in terms of raw numbers. No doubt the Apple servers feeding downloads are feeling the strain.
Trends in Mobile Preferences
Mainland China is increasingly digi-communicative, and also had the world’s largest number of internet and cell phone users at 649 million and 557 million respectively at the end of 2014. Cyberspace Administration of China seems determined to prevent cultural slip and the spread of ideas it considers inappropriate.
App Annie’s senior vice-president also disclosed news of other interesting trends. China’s consumers are shifting to smart phones with longer battery lives and larger screens. This may have to do with games dominating categories, followed by lifestyle and photo and video, with education catching up.
These trends confirm the flexibility of Apple’s iOS downloads. I expect a continuing surge in the popularity of innovative products like its Apple iMac with Retina Display for some time to come.