SINGAPORE: Asia accounted for 41% of global app revenue in December 2013, making it the most lucrative market in the world for mobile apps, new analysis has established.

"Asia: The Leading App Market in the World" report from Distimo, the Dutch-owned analytics company, concluded that represented a huge growth rate of 162% in 2013, compared to the 46% recorded in North America over the year.

Based on analysis of daily App Store and Google Play downloads, Asia's 41% share in December also compared to 31% in North America and 23% in Europe, prompting Distimo to comment that "the Asian app store market is a train that can't be stopped".

Japan was by far the most lucrative market in the region, followed by South Korea at a distant second and then China, Taiwan and Hong Kong – although South Korea recorded the steepest growth rate of 271%, followed by Hong Kong at 211% and China at 203%.

The extremely disproportionate share among Asian countries was graphically illustrated by findings that Japan's revenue was 77 times that of Malaysia.

Although App Store recorded a healthy 94% increase in revenue for iPhone apps and 64% for iPad, it was Google Play that emerged as the main driving force.

Google Play's revenues more than quadrupled in 2013, borne along in part by its performance in South Korea where Apple holds just a 14% market share, TechCrunch reported.

As in Western markets, freemium, or free-to-play, was the leading business model for apps in Asia while Angry Birds Go! was the most downloaded game in December.

This was followed by two domestic Asian games – Carrot Fantasy 2: Polar Adventure and then The Hardest Game in History.

Regarding China, the report concluded that its domestic market is so large "it can support an entirely independent ecosystem from the rest of the world".

As only 3.5% of devices in the country have Google Play services installed, Distimo teamed up with Wandoujia, China's leading Android app store, to collect data from its 300m users.

It found evidence that Chinese mobile gamers are now more willing to spend money on apps, leading Wandoujia to advise foreign developers that they have a "big opportunity" to reach millions of gamers in the country.

Data sourced from Distimo, TechCrunch; additional content by Warc staff