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The Russian app market - lots of demand, not much revenue

0 11 March 2014

The Russian mobile apps market is a rapidly growing sector. The market was ‘born’ in 2009, a year after the sector took off in more developed economies. By the end of the year the fledgling sector was worth just $3 million. However, three years of triple digit annual growth saw the sector’s value skyrocket to $137 million by the end of 2012. 

During this period, the Russian market grew slightly faster than the global one, a pattern which J’son & Partners predict will continue for the next couple of years, with the sector in Russia growing at an average of 186% annually up to 2015. 

The rise of on-demand app developers

In order to keep up with the rapid proliferation of tablets and smartphones, Russian companies and corporations have rushed to get themselves an app, spawning a thriving app-development industry. In 2013 there were 4100 Russian companies specializing in software development, compared to 600 in 2008, and many of these focus on building apps on demand. 

When J’son & Partners ranked Russian app developers in August 2013, they put Unreal Mojo, e-Legion, iD EAST, REDMADROBOT and Articul Media in their top-5. 

The same companies made the top-5 in February 2014, when ranked the top-50 app developers in the country.

Unreal Mojo was the runaway leader, with an impressive 811 points, while REDMADROBOT, iD EAST and e-legion scored twice as many points as all those below them. 

Lots of downloads...

Apps have certainly taken off in Russia in the past two years. AppAnnie ranked Russia in 4th place in 2013 for total Google Play app downloads, 2 places higher than in 2012. Russia climbed even more in the iOS download rankings, rising 5 places to 5th overall. 

Russian companies are well represented in the top-10 for most downloaded non-game apps in Russia. Social network VK was the most downloaded app in 2013, while lots of Russians also chose to use anti-virus app Dr Web.’s Odnoklassniki social network was in 5th place, while annotated maps service 2GIS Listings was ninth and entertainment app 10th. 

In contrast, not one Russian-produced game made it into the top-10 for most downloads.

... but not much revenue

Despite the huge quantity of apps downloaded by Russians in 2013, the revenue app publishers generate from sales and in game purchases is still low. Russia does not make the top-10 for Google Play spending, and it sits in 9th place in the iOS list. This suggests that the majority of Russians aren’t yet willing to spend money on apps. 

It is quite revealing that the highest earning non-game app publisher in Russia is LitRes, an e-book company. Worldwide e-book apps are in just 7th place for revenue in the iOS apps list, and don’t even appear in the Google Play top-10. Other Russian publishers to make the non-games top-10 are Navitel, which produces sat-nav apps, education app developer Apps Ministry, ABBYY, which offers language products and business-services company Action Media

In the games sector Russian company Game Insight recorded the third highest revenue in 2013, while its game The Tribez was the fourth highest earning game. Another Russian company, Social Quantum, was in sixth place, largely thanks to its game Megapolis, which brought in the third most revenue overall. 


The apps market in Russia is going to continue growing. Russians have been slow to adapt to making payments through their computers, and so it is unsurprising that they are also reluctant to spend money on apps via their smartphones and tablets. As this changes, paid apps (and paid in-app services) are likely to catch on more widely.

However, the dominant source of income (and one which was not included in the revenue statistics used in this post) for app publishers will continue to be advertising for the foreseeable future. 

As for app developers, they will surely remain in demand as companies strive to keep their mobile services up to date as mobile becomes a more and more significant part of everyday life. 

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