Indonesia-based ride-hailing app Gojek didn’t make it into the top 20 apps by downloads or MAU in Southeast Asia, roughly two years since it began its international expansion. (We’ve written about Gojek’s overseas expansion struggles.) It only landed in the top 20 MAU chart towards the end of 2019.
Gojek’s Singaporean arch rival Grab, though, ranks much higher overall. After all, Grab has been focused on building a regional footprint from the get-go.
Gojek’s active users ranking is still mostly driven by its large user base in home country Indonesia—also the region’s biggest market with a 260 million population. Popularity in Indonesia automatically catapults an app into the regional ranks. In Indonesia, Gojek was the seventh most popular app by MAU in 2019, as per App Annie. Grab doesn’t make it into the country’s top 10.
It’s also worth noting that Gojek’s regional ranks don’t take into consideration Vietnam and Thailand, where it goes by local brand names—GoViet and GET, respectively. That’s not to say that Gojek is particularly strong in those countries. In Vietnam, GoViet doesn’t figure in the top 10 by downloads and MAU. It’s the same story for GET in Thailand.
However, the company saw a surge in new downloads in Singapore last year, thanks to better ride supply. From 10 million completed trips in June 2019, the company grew to 30 million trips by November. But while Gojek was the city-state’s top downloaded app in 2019, that wasn’t enough to bump it into the top ranks by MAU.
Willing to pay?
While users are happy to download and use new apps—ranging from social media and messaging, shopping, food ordering and transportation—spending on downloads or in-app purchases signal a more invested user base.
An in-app purchase is almost always for an added benefit. Think updating to Tinder Gold for better matches on the dating app, or buying outfits and gear inside a mobile game. Netflix subscriptions can also factor in here. It refers to everything that’s billed through the app store itself.
Southeast Asia is no singular, homogeneous entity. And that statement is proved by how much Southeast Asians vary, country to country, in priorities with regards to what they spend on apps.
Singaporeans are the big spenders. The country soars way above the global average app store spend of just US$2.63 per internet user in 2019. Thailand and Malaysia also stand out with a higher average spend per internet user than their neighbours.
Indonesians, despite operating with higher per capita GDP than their Vietnamese and Filipino neighbours, don’t part with their cash easily. At least not over apps.
So it’s not just a case of rich country = more app payments. There are other factors:
Mobile gaming: App Annie’s consumer-spend metric tracks payments that are made directly through the iOS App Store or Google Play. Mostly gaming spends, the data research company says. Now, game publishers from China, Japan and South Korea entered some markets like Thailand and Malaysia early because of geographical proximity and cultural affinity. No surprise that Thais and Malaysians caught on.