Local app developers go global with Google Play

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Local app developers go global with Google Play

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Chris Yerga, Google’s vice president of engineering and head of Asia Pacific for Google Play, speaks in Seoul on Thursday. Provided by the company

Korean-made apps on the Google Play store made four times as much revenue overseas last year compared with 2013 and a wider variety of apps are becoming popular, a Google Play executive said on Thursday.

To celebrate the Android app market’s third anniversary, Chris Yerga, Google’s vice president of engineering and Asia-Pacific head of Google Play, said in a press conference that the Korean apps gaining attention abroad are no longer confined to games. Now, cameras, education and design programs also have major followings.

“Korean developers have been standing out in overseas markets lately,” Yerga said at Google Korea’s office in southern Seoul. “We will continue developing tools that facilitate apps’ localization and profitability so that they can capture the opportunity to make forays into global markets.”

Last year, Google delivered more than $7 billion in profit to app developers across the globe and Korea has the fifth-highest number of developers registered with Google Play. Android-based smartphones account for more than 60 percent of phones in Korea - largely due to Samsung Electronics use of the Google-made operating system.

The Google vice president gave the example of a game app called Ace Fishing, developed by Korea’s Com2uS, as a major international success. Over 90 percent of its revenue and downloads last year came from outside Korea, in regions such as North America, Southeast Asia and Europe.

But games weren’t the only recent success stories. “This year is a ‘go-global’ moment for non-game apps,” Yerga said.

To show that non-gaming apps have also been expanding, Google Korea invited three developers to answer questions about their businesses.

Park Sang-won, founder and CEO of Venticake, said his company launched its instant camera filtering app Retrica in November 2012 on Apple’s App Store but was under mounting pressure from users abroad to launch it on Google Play, too. Some even started a petition on the White House website, Park said.

Since the app was released on Google Play, its downloads jumped 13 times in just 10 months and the app is now bringing in 98.5 percent of its downloads from overseas.

The developers of Smart Study’s Pink Pong, an educational content provider for preschool children, and Open Global Question, which provides images for lock screens and backgrounds, also discussed their paths to success.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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