Mobile app trends in Asia

11 October 2019

Mobile apps are quickly growing in popularity across Asia, particularly in regions that have leapfrogged the widespread adoption of the computer internet and became top users of mobile technologies. The following three articles look at some important mobile app trends in Asia, such as the rise of super apps across the Asian region, the increasing popularity of Chinese apps in Southeast Asia, and the growing tensions between food businesses and delivery apps in India.

Super apps: WeChat, Go-Jek and rivals battle to do it all in Asia

There is a growing use of super apps like WeChat by consumers in China. These apps enable people to do multiple tasks such as pay bills, order food, share photos and articles and chat with friends by using just one platform. Super apps such as WeChat are even increasingly used by the older generation, who are usually unwilling or struggle to use new technologies. Consumers can use WeChat for many functions, removing the need to have or download multiple apps. These super apps have gained such popularity that there are already more than a billion WeChat users, mostly located in China. These super apps are growing in use even in remote areas like Myanmar and have become a way of doing business in Asia. WeChat’s success is also encouraging other developers to create super apps (also called do-it-all apps), however, experts warn that these apps can hinder online competition and innovation. By offering multiple services on one platform the competitors who only offer one type of service are unable to compete with super apps like WeChat or Alipay. Despite these concerns, super apps are expected to expand further, meaning that businesses will need to collaborate with these apps, such as by using WeChat’s mini-apps to sell their products and services, as the number of consumers using super apps will continue to grow rapidly across Asia.

Read the full article on the Asia Nikkei website

Chinese apps winning over Southeast Asia

Mobile apps (such as the photo editing app Meitu) made in China are rapidly growing in popularity in SEA with some even overtaking giants such as YouTube and Instagram in terms of downloads. TikTok (a short video app) is the most downloaded app of its kind in Southeast Asia, with Southeast Asia accounting for 40% of TikTok’s global users. Likee (a Chinese short-video app) is currently in the top 10 mobile apps in Indonesia, while Joox (a Chinese made music streaming app) is the top mobile app in Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia. A Chinese file-sharing tool, SHAREit, is also growing in popularity in Indonesia and India with over 600 million users in these two markets. This app started gaining popularity in these markets mostly by word of mouth recommendations. Apps that do the best in Southeast Asian markets are easy to use and adopt a localised and refined way of operating (that reflects tastes in each SEA market). Such adaptation is done through the use of local, multicultural teams and partners with local market knowledge. This knowledge is crucial to reduce barriers such as localisation, religious sensitivity and copyright compliance. The usage and popularity of Chinese apps across all categories will continue to grow steadily in Southeast Asia due to the rapid economic development and large populations, creating further opportunities and competitive advantage for businesses that utilise apps in this region.

Read the full article on the China Daily website.  

India’s restaurants rebel against food delivery apps

Thousands of restaurants and food industries are stopping their collaborations with food delivery apps such as Zomato and Uber Eats in India to protest the high costs associated with app commission fees and app-created discounts. The restaurants are blaming these apps for creating consumers who begin to view discounts as a right, not a privilege, and who start to demand more discounts. These discounts are costing the restaurants, while the delivery apps reap all the benefits through high commissions. Zomato and Swiggy ‘create’ discounts and deals such as eat-as-much-as-you-want (or unlimited dining) for a flat price, which costs the restaurant and creates food waste. Swiggy also competes with restaurants directly by utilising its brand that makes food in ‘cloud kitchens’. The costs associated with using delivery apps have even forced some Indian restaurants to close down. Another factor creating tension between restaurants and delivery apps is that the apps refuse to share customer details with restaurants, making it impossible for the restaurants and other food businesses to develop a long-term relationship with their best customers or to market their products directly. Due to these issues and tensions, thousands of India’s restaurants have pulled out of Zomato Gold and other discount programs and started using the hash-tag #Logout to rebel against these apps. Despite this action, the delivery apps are not willing to reduce their fees and the tension between the Indian food businesses and delivery app businesses remain high.

Read the full article on the New York Times website

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