There’s an App for That: Russia’s Mobile App Industry

In recent years, the term ‘app’ has become more and more popular and since 2012, more mobile subscribers have used apps than have browsed the web on their devices. Whether it’s an exciting game, a useful bank account management app or even just an easier way to access social networks, mobile apps have completely changed the way we operate our phones and tablets.

Russia is home to a lively mobile app industry with a high number of start-ups. Many of these are behind the transformation of mobile phones that has turned phone calls and text messages into secondary functions. Here’s how they’re doing it:

Flourishing app industry

The Russian mobile industry is one of the fastest growing globally, third only to the US and China. According to recent findings, its app industry is set to take off with an expected 109 percent growth between now and 2016, much higher than the expected global growth of approximately 86 percent. Some specialists are even more optimistic. J’Son & Partners predict the growth rate in Russia could be as high as 171 percent for the same 2013 to 2016 period.

The growth in the mobile app industry is down to a number of key factors. Russian internet use on mobile devices is set to rise to 55 percent in the next few years. Android phones, iPhones, iPads and other tablets are becoming increasingly popular, and account for a large share of the rising mobile internet audience. In particular, iPad users are becoming one of  the most desirable audiences in the Russian industry, as 40 percent of iOS games are downloaded by iPad users alone.

Another area of notable growth is in the mobile video audience, of which the majority now use apps to access it. Although the Russian audience sits behind the US in size, its growth rate is faster than anywhere else and today there are over 20 million mobile video users. Even more important are user behaviors: over half of mobile users play games, watch videos and use social media sites on a daily basis. Mobile gaming also plays a hand and is expected to rise by up to 71 percent – going from 38 million today to 65 million in 2016.

From Russia to the world

Russian twins Efim and Semyon Voinov surprised many when their creation, the mobile game ‘Cut The Rope’, became the#1 iPhone app in October 2010, knocking Angry Birds off its perch. It quickly became the #1 Android download when it was released on that platform in July 2011.

Since then, many other Russian apps have succeeded as well. Narr8 became another Russian app success story when it reached the #1 spot in the American version of the AppStore. Nikolai and Pavel Durov, the brothers that launched VK, Russia’s most popular social network,have launched Telegram, an alternative to WhatsApp, the popular multiplatform instant messaging app.  Telegram is achieving high popularity in a very competitive market by focusing on privacy settings and speed.

Looking at their local market, one of Russia’s most popular apps is Yandex.Market, available on Google Play, iTunes AppStore and Yandex.Store. This app is designed to work as a ‘personal mobile helper’, helping users to find products, prices, reviews and offers.

There’s no going back on how apps have an impact on the day-to-day life and are growing as an industry. The Russian app industry still has a long way to go to become one of the global leaders, but it’s catching up! If you want to reach Russian pockets by targeting people’s phones, now is the time for you to invest in Russia’s app industry.