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Japanese chat juggernaut Line‘s active user count might be an enigma, but the latest edition of the App Annie Index shows outside of games, Line was the top earning app and publisher in the world in 2013.
Line also ranked ninth in the list of most downloaded publishers in the world. It’s the sixth most-downloaded app outside of games.
According to the report, Japan surpassed the US as the top country in terms of app revenue, driven largely by games on Google Play. That means Line’s home market likely helped push it to the top of the highest earners list.
Within Japan, Line’s game lineup took seven of the top ten highest earning mobile game spots, beaten only by fellow Japanese game Puzzles and Dragons. Line and Line Camera are the two most-downloaded apps in the country outside of games.
The popular Japanese messaging app and social platform might well be making more money than any other chat app out there, as well.
While App Annie is used by over 350 000 apps to track downloads, revenues, and rankings, the hole in its data, however, is WeChat, which started monetizing from stickers, games, and in-app payments last year. App Annie pulls its data from Google Play and the Apple App Store, which means its stats for Chinese Android apps are likely skewed. Google Play is seldom used in China because it can’t be installed on most phones sold within the mainland. Much like Line’s mammoth revenues likely originate from Taiwan and Japan, WeChat’s likely originate primarily from mainland China. So while both apps are technically top earners globally, they remain regional kings in a fragmented global space.
Other stats of note
Here are a few other interesting observations from the App Annie Index:
- Japanese publisher GungHo Online and its game Puzzles and Dragons are the top-earning publisher and app in the world, respectively (merchandising not included).
- South Korea bumped the UK off the podium to be the third-highest earning country in app revenue.
- Google Play surpassed iTunes in total worldwide app downloads, although iOS is still far ahead of Android in terms of app revenue.
- The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are the fastest growing new markets for developers — they saw more download and revenue growth in 2013 than superpowers like the US, Japan and South Korea.
- The freemium model (offering the app for free but allowing in-app purchases) is seriously proving its worth, accounting for 93% of app revenue in 2013.
This article by Paul Bischoff originally appeared on Tech in Asia, a Burn Media publishing partner.