Google Play: Positive news for app developers in SEA
By Chong Jinn Xiung October 21, 2016
- Right time for Google Play app and game developers to make their mark in Southeast Asia
- Downloads of homegrown apps on Google Play have rose 25% year-on-year in July 2016
HOW much time do you spend on your smartphone in a day? According to Google, people in Southeast Asia (SEA) really love their smartphones and spend 51 out the 60 minutes in an hour on them.
Nearly all Southeast Asian (SEA) markets have seen growth double in terms of total time spent in apps from 2014-2016, according to a 2016 report by business intelligence company, App Annie.
This reinforces Google’s expectations that SEA will play an important role in the development of the overall Android ecosystem
“We have a billion active users across 190 countries using Android and these folks are actively consuming apps and games built by our developers,” said Google Play global director of business development for apps and games Purnima Kochikar (pic right).
“The number of games seeing more than one million installs grew by 50% in the last year. The combined revenue of Google Play and iOS App Store in SEA grew 30% between 2014 and 2016. This means more users are installing apps as well as spending more time and money on them,” she added.
Kochikar was speaking during Google’s second annual Playtime event in Singapore where 200 app and game developers from around Southeast Asia gathered to meet with Google Play leadership, network and learn.
“Southeast Asia is a rapidly expanding hotbed of digital innovation. We are increasingly seeing leading game developers coming out of Southeast Asia and having an impact not only on their local economies but regionally and globally,” she said.
Lending a hand to developers
Google’s Android ecosystem would not be where it is today without its passionate developer community.
Utilising the same approach Google uses to develop new technology, the company said it is providing developers with the right tools to conduct testing, acquire feedback and engage with their audience to build better apps.
According to Google, developers can create open or closed beta groups to gather feedback from the community and understand what needs to be fixed before taking the app out into the world.
To help developers make sense of all the feedback received, Google employs machine-learning to generate reports on user sentiment.
Google also wants its developers to think about the next billion new users coming from emerging markets.
It's Building for Billions initiative is a set of guidelines that encourages developers to make their apps and games work on devices and networks with lower capabilities.
“We constantly want to innovate forward and together with our community. At the same time, we believe in breaking down barriers so that everyone can stay connected and access the same apps and games from across the world,” said Kochikar.
Regional developers have their say
Google gathered six developers from across the region to explain how they are using Google Play tools to help them go global and build successful businesses.
The developers included Desmond Lee of AppXplore (Malaysia), Andrius Baranauskas of Carousell (Singapore), Aun Taraseina of Kiragames (Thailand), Gabby Dizon of Altitude Games (Philippines), Hung Dinh from RubyCell (Vietnam) and Eldwin Viriya of Own Game (Indonesia).
“There is little denying that Android has captured 80% of mobile users today. The Google Play platform allows us to reach out to millions of users and it has an ecosystem that helps us continue to grow and build our audience,” said AppXplore chief executive officer Desmond Lee.
But in order for an app or game to be successful, developers need to have a plan.
“You cannot make a game first, then think about going global. You need to lay out your strategy, design your game around it, then go global,” explained Kiragames chief operating officer Aun Taraseina.
He admitted that when the studio first started working on Android in 2009, it was the most difficult platform that they had worked on.
Fortunately, much has changed and now Google Play is the most advanced distribution channel for their game.
Aun attributes this to the developer tool sets offered by Google that allows the studio to test user retention and conduct beta tests on different iterations of the game before releasing it on other platforms.
Today Kiragames’ mobile game, Unblock Me, is touted as one of the most popular games to come out of SEA with 78 million users on Android.
Carousell director of product Andrius Baranauskas believes the implementation of material design, Android’s visual language introduced in 2014, helped improve the speed in the design process.
“We were able to design much faster and come up with various iterations quicker,” he said.
Baranauskas added that user feedback gave them insights while the ability to reply to user reviews allowed them to follow up and turn around bad experiences.
Altitude Games chief executive officer and co-founder Gabby Dizon agreed that Google Play’s developer console provided him with lots of useful insights that allowed him to improve his game, Run Run Super Five.
“Every morning I log on to see how many installs of the game were made in the last day, check reviews and see if the game is trending up or down,” he said.
Though he has a team that responds to user reviews, he also takes the time to personally respond to reviews to mitigate any concerns players may have.
He jokingly says that he completes his morning ritual by logging into Google Wallet to see how much the game has made.
Indeed, with talents such as these, the future certainly looks bright for SEA developers as the desire for quality app content grows globally.