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How China's soon-to-be #2 iOS status could shift our perceptions of the F2P Android gaming market

Shake up Shanghai style
How China's soon-to-be #2 iOS status could shift our perceptions of the F2P Android gaming market

Apple's impressive holiday quarter results - posting the highest profit ever from any company - also represents a significant shift towards the still untapped potential of China.

For those who need a refresher on the figures, the Californian company announced that it sold 74.5 million iPhones in the last three months of 2014  - that's 46 percent more than a year earlier.

To put it in perspective, the results mean Apple is selling more than 34,000 phones an hour.

It's the East, however, where Apple made the biggest gains.

Boasting a strong selection of devices - notably the iPhone 6+, although Apple won't reveal sales on a per device basis - it took full advantage its recent deal with China Mobile, the world's largest mobile network.

Indeed, while the usual suspects of the US and Europe led the charge to generate the $74.6 billion revenue record, it was China that's hot on their heels with $16.1 billion of revenue. 

Up 70 percent year-on-year, that figure puts China just behind Europe ($17.2 billion) as Apple's #2 region; a status it seems guarenteed to accomplish next quarter.

On the rise

The growing appetite for iPhones in China can be partly attributed to their position as status symbols among the middle class.

It is this market that has been swallowing the devices faster than any other demographic, egged on by strong advertising campaigns like the Apple Watch on the cover of Vogue China.

Unsurprisingly, this wealthy group is more likely to spend money on apps and IAPs too. 

Recent insights from Monument Valley developer ustwo revealed that, despite being branded a free-to-play-only territory, China scored second place in terms of iOS sales of the $3.99 premium game

In exact figures, that worked out as 12 percent of the game's global sales.

Testing the water

Some western developers are also beginning to explore the Chinese F2P gaming market using iOS as their launchpad rather than the larger - both by revenue and userbase - Android market. 

Not only are Chinese iPhone owners richer, you don't have to worry about massive Android fragmentation. 

As German strategy publisher Goodgame Studios told us at Pocket Gamer Connects London 2015 (in the video below), it decided to launch its hit F2P game Empire: Four Kingdoms on the App Store first to see how the market reacted.

Only then did it work out a strategy to release the game through various Android distribution channels. 


And in the near future, Apple's expansion into China is showing no signs of slowing. 

In October, Tim Cook announced Apple would open 25 new stores in China by 2016 and retail chief Angela Ahrendts recently revealed plans to open five Apple Stores there before the Chinese New Year on 19 February.