A tablet computer running an education app for children. (Photo/Xinhua)
A growing number of Chinese enterprises are jumping onto the bandwagon of educational smartphone applications, which, along with gaming, promise to become the mobile internet sector with the highest profit potential.
For the moment, however, the educational apps market still appears to be very difficult to crack, as many Chinese subscribers are still unwilling to pay for downloads. A study shows that only 2% of Chinese subscribers are willing to download apps for a fee.
Despite current difficulties, the educational apps market is still attracting investors due to its huge market potential, which is reflected in the size of China's after-hours education market. It is estimated that there are some 100,000 post-class tutoring institutions in the country, with the scale of the post-class education market topping 960 billion yuan (US$154 billion) in 2012.
Along with China's population and the enhanced willingness for digital consumption, experts predict that the educational apps market has a potential to hit 2 trillion yuan (US$320 billion) by 2015.
Internet analyst Qian Hao believes China's social conditions are ripe for online teaching, as students of the new generation are accustomed to online learning and socializing.
Xu Hua, vice president of educational platform hujiang.com, says some schools in Guangdong province, Nanjing and Shanghai have embraced tablet computers in their education. The features of fun and convenience promises tremendous potential for educational apps, Xu added.
A recent survey of 3,800 parents in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou found that 49.6% of the parents would utilize mobile devices to teach their children and 22% of them would use mobile devices in observing the learning of their children.
The consumption market for Chinese children has soared 2.23 times over the past four years and will hit 311 billion yuan (US$49.8 billion) in scale by the end of next year, laying a solid foundation for the development of educational apps market.
Zhang Xiaoqing, the R&D superintendent of news portal ifeng.com, says, "In mobile internet, apart from gaming, educational products for children have the highest potential for profits."
At present, gaming leads China's apps market with a 19.7% share, followed by educational apps with 10.4%. However, many subscribers remain unwilling to pay for educational apps due to the homogeneity of their content.
Experts believe that in the future, educational apps should take advantage of unique content and advanced technology, a requirement that poses major challenges to other competitors in the market.