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Find out more

by James Cartlidge

Since the birth of the Apple App Store (July 10th 2008 – that’s 7 years ago… feeling old yet?), the rise of the “smartphone” and its market has grown dramatically year on year.

The need to be always connected to the internet is becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity in the modern age.

In terms of growth, nothing has been more surprising to me than that of the Russian apps market and I’d like to tell you why.

At first glance the Russian apps market currently stands as the 5th largest market (combined iOS and Google Play downloads), below the United States, China, Brazil and India. These downloads are primarily driven by the Google Play market.

Taken at face value, this doesn’t actually sound that impressive. However, their current smartphone penetration is only around 55% and is predicted to increase to over 70% in the next 3 years – still a massive portion of the population that has yet made the leap.

Moscow International Business Centre

Moscow International Business Centre 


To help them make the leap, Russia introduced a policy of technology neutrality. This ruling allows the expansion of 3G and 4G signals across the nation, including urban areas with at least 1,000 residents, and upgrading areas with at least 10,000 residents. This was approved in December 2013 and is responsible for the market’s steady growth year on year, at an average of around 15% overall. If you separate this into its dominant market, Google Play has seen growth of around 25%.

So, what does all the above tell us?

It shows that the Russian app market, which is still a year younger than the rest of the developed world, hadn’t initially taken to the app generation. However, now because of this recently introduced policy, it is quickly catching up and developing its own trends.

So, let’s put this in monetary terms.

According to research that was conducted by J’son & Partners Consulting (a managing consultancy based in Russia), the mobile apps market in Russia is predicted to grow at an average rate of 186%, and in 2016 is likely to reach $1.3 Billion (USD). Included within this is research are some very interesting facts:

  • 50% of tablet and smartphone users run video apps every day, surf the Internet at least once a day, and play mobile games daily.
  • It is also reported that 40% of mobile Internet users would rather be deprived of television than of their smartphones.

Ok. Now we know that Russia is definitely not a market to pass up on just yet. However, as with most markets, certain app categories do much better. Games account for around 50% of downloads in the Russian market and around 75% of the revenue (this is based on a 3 month period ending May 2015, combining both iOS and Google Play – source:

Singling out Google Play, the dominant marketplace, this generated around 90% of revenue. Strategy games such as Game of War – Fire Age and Clash of Kings seem to be leading the market – but for how long?

Behind games, social media is becoming very strong, driven by a dominant Russian network, Odnoklassniki, and a range of dating and messaging apps which appear to change depending on trends. This trend is certainly one to monitor closely.

“To succeed in the Russian market, an app should be adapted and localized, because the vast majority of Russians ignore foreign-language apps.”




On the face of things, Russia seems as large a market as the United States or the other developed world countries.However, when delving deeper, it is growing at a faster rate than other markets, and ultimately has yet to “settle”, making Russia a market not to be missed.