Top Apps in the iTunes store: MENA Edition

iTunes logo

So after much thought I decided to look up what Applications on the iTunes store are being bought for the iPhone, I was interested in seeing how people in the MENA region are using their iPhones and what type of applications they are willing to spend their money on. So I logged onto the iTunes store and dug up the following on the top 10 PAID applications from each country:

  • There are 8 countries from the MENA region that are included in the iTunes store which are Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and the UAE.
  • From a possible 80 applications only 9 were Arabic apps. i.e. Only 11% of the top paid applications are in Arabic!
  • From the 8 countries, 2 (Lebanon and Tunisia) didn’t have any Arabic apps on the top 10.
  • Egypt was the highest country to have Arabic Apps and it had 3 out of 10. (None of which were in top 5)
  • Kuwait came in second with 2 Arabic apps
  • All of the UAE, Jordan, Saudi Arabi and Qatar All had only 1 Arabic app.

Popular Apps:

  • Whats app messenger was the most popular app, appearing on the top 10 in the 7 out of the 8 stores.
  • Angry Birds the popular game was in second appearing on the top 10 in 6 out of the 8 stores.
  • Fruit Ninja (another game) was third appearing on the top 10 in 4 out of the 8 stores.

App categories:

  • There was a total of 13 categories: Utilities, Social Networking, Games, Entertainment, Music, Productivity, Navigation, Photography, Business, News, Health & Fitness, Books and Education (wink, wink)
  • Most apps downloaded across the stores were Games with 17 Games across the 8 stores.
  • Utilities came in second with 13 apps across the 8 stores.
  • Entertainment was third with 12 apps across the 8 stores.
  • Social Networking was fourth with 10 apps across the 8 stores.

iTunes Top 10 paid apps (Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait)

iTunes Top 10 paid apps (Tunisia, UAE)

From the points above its safe to say that games and social networking applications will always be in demand. And its no surprise that the number of Arabic apps is not any greater especially if you consider the number of Arabic app developers in the region and the difficulty to find or discover new apps in the iTunes Store. Also when you consider the number of x-pats (especially in the GCC) it makes sense that Egypt has the highest number of Arabic apps. Another important factor is the level of user sophistication, any person who uses an iPhone will undoubtedly be able to benefit from the English apps as well, so unless Arabic apps provide an extra feature that makes life easier for the user it wont be useful, it will be more clutter.

In order for more Arabic apps to appear on the iTunes store, I think app developers in the region have to seriously put some thought in the design and marketing of their app. Just placing an app on the iTunes store is the first step, more attention would have to be given on how the people will find it and what can the app do for them.

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Having worked with top digital agencies and companies in the MENA region for the past number of years I'm now looking now to venture on my own with small side projects in online, SaaS products. Things I like include: gaming, sports, technology, social media, start ups, funny things and reading about new bright ideas.