Mobile Apps form an important and growing part of the economy across the world, and this is certainly true of mainland China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. On the whole, mobile app use in mainland China tends to be disproportionately by men compared with Hong Kong or Singapore, and disproportionately by the young. In Hong Kong, and particularly Singapore, mobile app use is extremely popular across a range of ages. In mainland China and to a much lesser extent Hong Kong, the most popular apps are Chinese, whereas in Singapore many of the most popular apps are western. Across all the regions, the most frequent use of mobile apps was for communication of various kinds, along with social media. Moreover, in all three places Android is the predominant mobile operating system, with a clear lead over iOS.
In the brief below I have summarized the most relevant data about the demographics of mobile users in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Unfortunately, there was some data about app usage rates that was only available on a country by country level, and as Hong Kong is not an independent country, there was slightly less data available about Hong Kong than about China and Singapore. Further, in some places, I have taken demographics of mobile web users, as there is far more detailed information available about mobile web users than simply mobile app users. Since the web is generally accessed from a phone via an app, the two groups almost completely overlap, and therefore it made sense to include data from this group so as to provide the most comprehensive picture possible. Please note that although Wonder generally doesn't use sources older than two years, we have used 2 older sources (this and this) in this report because they are the most recent and specified information publicly available.
Gender: 57.4% of Chinese mobile web users are male and 42.6% are female. Age: 28% of mobile web users in China are under 25, 31.8% are 25-35, 19.3% are 35-40, 12.4% are 40-45, and 8.6% are older than 45. Top Apps: The ten most popular apps in China, by number of users, are: WeChat, QQ, Mobile Baidu, Taobao, UC Browser, QQ Browser, Tencent Video, Sogou Mobile Input, 360 Mobile Security, and YouKu. It is worth noting that all of these apps are Chinese, and in fact even the top fifty list is dominated by Chinese apps - the only even somewhat popular foreign app in China is Google's Chrome browser. Indeed, even among Chinese apps, Tencent emerges clearly dominant, as its various apps which include WeChat and QQ encompass a huge portion of the time spent on mobile apps in China. Tencent alone accounts for a whopping 29% of the time spent on apps in China last year. App Categories: The most popular categories of app in China, by the amount of time spent using them are: Communication, which accounts for 36% of the time Chinese users spend on apps, 'Other' which accounts for 32%, Video Players/Editors which accounts for 18%, Games which account for 9%, and Social which account for 8%. OS: 78.69% of smartphones in China run on Android, compared to 19.64% on iOS, and 1.67% on other operating systems. 7 Day Retention Rate: Only 5.9% of users in China are using an app more than a week after it has been downloaded. Frequency of Use: Chinese app users typically open an app 1.4 times per day, and will stay in the app an average of 619.18 seconds.
Gender: 48.4% of smartphone users in Hong Kong are male, compared to 51.6% who are female. This is the opposite of the gender skew in mainland China, where mobile users are mostly male. Age: 3.6% of smartphone users in Hong Kong are aged 10-14, 13.9% are aged 15-24, 17.5% are aged 25-34, 18.3% are aged 35-44, 20.5% are aged 45-54, 17.6% are aged 55-64, and 8.7% are aged over 65. This is a much more balanced distribution of usage by age than is seen in mainland China, perhaps because a whopping 85.8% of people in Hong Kong use a smartphone. Top Apps: The ten most popular apps in Hong Kong on Android are: We Chat, WhatsApp Messenger, AliPay HK, Facebook Messenger, Space Cleaner, Triton Technology, App 1933, Knives Out, Game Beans, and Tik Tok. The ten most popular apps in Hong Kong on iOS are: Whatsapp Messenger, WeChat, AliPay HK, YouTube, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Speak & Translate Translator, SkyScanner, PayMe from HSBC, and TaoBao. Note the relevant prevalence of non-Chinese apps among users in Hong Kong relative to users in mainland China, particularly those who use iOS. OS: 65.2% of smartphones in Hong Kong run on Android, compared to 34.8% that run on iOS. iOS is most popular among the youngest surveyed group of Hong Kong residents, with 37% those age 18-25 saying they used iOS, compared to just 24% of those aged 36-45.
Demographics: Singapore has an incredibly high smartphone penetration rate of 95%, and this means that there is fairly consistent adoption across gender and age. If we look, for instance, at usage by age we find that 99% of Singaporeans under 25 years old use a smartphone, about 100% of those aged 25-34 do, 97% of those 35-44, 93% of those 45-54, and 69% of those 55 and older use smartphones. Top Apps: The ten most popular apps for Android in Singapore are: Ofo, Mobike, WhatsApp Messenger, Facebook Messenger, Rules of Survival, Grab, Uber, WeChat, Facebook, and Instagram. For iOS, the ten most popular apps in Singapore are: WhatsApp, YouTube, Ofo, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Rules of Survival, Instagram, Mobike, Google Maps, and Grab. App Usage: The top activities Singaporeans spend their time on smartphones doing are messaging (21% of time), social media (16%), web surfing (16%), calls (11%), and games (11%). OS: 62% of smartphones in Singapore operate on Android, compared with 37% on Apple, and 1% on other operating systems. 7-Day Retention: In Singapore 14% of customers are still using an app a week after it has been downloaded, on average. Note that this is almost triple the retention rate in China. Frequency of Use: Singaporean app users will have 2.01 sessions with an app per day, and will stay in the app an average of 597.63 seconds.
As is clear from this data, mobile app users in mainland China are more likely to be men than those in Hong Kong or Singapore, and more likely to be young. Moreover, users in China and to a lesser extent Hong Kong, tend to favor Chinese apps, whereas in Singapore western apps are extremely popular. However, across the regions communication is the most common use of mobile apps, and the Android mobile operating system is much more common than iOS.