November 29th, 2013

6 things to know to launch branded mobile apps in China

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More and more brands are targeting China with their international mobile app strategies but most don’t realise how different the Chinese market is.

Here are a couple of key things you need to know:

1. No Google Play
Many of Google’s services are blocked in China and this includes Google Play. Most devices don’t even allow you to install Google Play even if you wanted to.

2. Alternative Android appstores
Instead of Google Play there are 20+ other successful Android appstores. These top 10 appstores make up about 80% of the total download volume.

3. Great wall of China
In addition to Google a lot of other services are inaccessible or spotty at best. This includes Google, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Mobile Wikipedia, Internet Movie Database and more. This could also cause issues with other 3rd party services using Google App Engine, Amazon Web Service sand other cloud hosting services. Test any dependencies in China before you put them in your apps.

4. Local social networks
Since most international social networks are banned or unpopular China has their own. These are the most important to know:
Sina Weibo – Local equivalence of Twitter combined with Facebook
Renren – Chinese Facebook
Qzone – Another Facebook clone
Tencent Weibo – Also a Twitter clone
Weixin (WeChat) – Chinese version of Whatsapp
Youku – The second largest video site in the world after Youtube

5. Popular smartphones
The smartphone market looks different in China than other parts of the world. Android has the largest market share and Samsung is still the largest device manufacturer by market share but then followed by Nokia, Apple and Lenovo. 70% of all smartphones cost less than 300 USD which means that they are generally a little bit slower, have smaller screens and less memory.

6. Hosting of back-end and web services
As per the great wall of China advise above it is also important to test the performance of any backend services you depend on. Some advisers go as far as saying that you need to host your backend services across both of the main Chinese networks but our experience is that hosting anywhere in the region including Hong Kong and Singapore works fine. Just make sure you test it and compare to local services before launching.

More about China
Go Globe has also produced an excellent infographic on smartphone usage in China including app category stats and more. Smartphone Usage in China – Statistics and Trends

Infographic by- GO-Globe.cn

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