The era of full-fledged smartphone has arrived after the iPhone of Apple landed in South Korea in 2009. The cumulative number of smartphone subscribers has increased steadily every year, reaching 40 million in September 2014. The smartphone ownership rate of all households stands at 84.1%, exceeding the PC ownership rate (78.2%).

With the development of mechanical properties and information & communication technology incorporated into convenient and portable mobile devices, the wireless Internet access has been made easily available and smartphone has replaced the functionalities of the PC. As a result, a variety of off-line services, game, shopping, office, payment, etc., have been migrating to mobile platforms and smart phone has become a device that is absolutely essential to our lives.

PC users utilize necessary information and sites based on the search portal, while smartphone users download necessary applications via the App Store. As the usage of mobile apps has increased rapidly over the last 5-6 years since the mobile app market has been stimulated, many companies strive to find new business models in the mobile app market.

Mobile Advertising Research Institute(MARI) examined the mobile app market of Korea and produced ‘Korea Mobile App Industry Map’ to provide practical information to those who prepare mobile app services. We investigated the apps that recorded more than 10,000 download counts based on Google play store, given that more than 90% of Korean smartphone users were using Android operating system(OS), and classified the apps into 19 categories that were actually used frequently (Entertainment, Book/Comic, Photos, Video, Sports, Health, Travel, Productivity, Tool, Security, Lifestyle, Food), and then selected 10 to 15 apps for each category through comparison of relevance of category and app and inter-category relevance.

korea mobile app industry

Major categories of ‘Korea Mobile App Industry Map’ can be explained as below:

– Photos, Video: Photo category is a collection of apps that allows users to take, refine and modify the pictures. Video category includes the apps that provide video shooting/watching and video editing services.

– Sports, Health: Sports category is a collection of apps that provide information related to sports such as ticket purchase, confirmation of scores, etc. Health category includes the apps that record the exercise amount, calorie intake, etc., to help maintain health.

– Travel: Travel category consist of the apps that provide information necessary for travel, such as accommodation, travel story, map, travel community, etc.

– Productivity, Tool: Productivity category includes the apps that help increase productivity such as business cards organizer, memo cloud, office, etc. Tool category features the apps providing services such as widget, file cleaner, keyboard, etc., which help improve performance of mobile devices.

– Security: Security category contains the apps related to mobile security which provides anti-virus and spam number block services, etc., preventing damage caused by mobile hacking.

– Lifestyle, Entertainment: Lifestyle contains the apps useful for everyday life, such as the apps providing the alarm service, parking, beauty, event information, etc. Entertainment category includes the apps that provide entertainment such as movies and humor, except for mobile games.

Smartphones comes in handy for all activities of daily lives such as TV watching, shopping, food delivery, ticket booking, travel scheduling, etc. The fast-growing mobile app market may look attractive, but mobile app market has been inundated with apps providing various services. The market is already saturated for particular category. To ensure successful mobile business, more thorough and rigorous market research and competitor investigation are required.

If you are planning the launch of new mobile services in 2015, we hope that you use the ‘Korea Mobile App Industry Map’ which help increase understanding of mobile apps ecosystem and identify the niche of success which other people have not found.