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Insights: How To Distribute & Monetize Your App in China

This article was co-written by Duncan Leung.

For a developer entering the China market, there is a barrage of adaptations needed for localizing their app, and not to mention the necessity of keeping in mind the censorship issues in China. The Chinese app market is the second biggest and fastest growing app market in the world, just standing closely behind the US app market.  China has over 910 million mobile users, 300 million of whom access the internet via their mobile phones.  However, one of the big questions for foreign developers is how to distribute and monetize an app into the Chinese market. The Chinese mobile market is lucrative for business, but at the same time, is complex at best, but generally seen a vast unknown on how to monetize their apps with a user population who just isn’t used to paying and downloading apps.  Even for the hallowed iOS ecosystem, the iTunes App Store has been circumvented in the Chinese market, and over 60% of iPhones in China are jailbroken.

62.2% of iPhones are Jailbroken. 37.8% of iPhones use the iTunes App Store

Statistics on Original i-phone –Jail break I-phones in China

Tips on distributing your app in China:

  • Partner directly with carriers and device makers for pre-install deals (PopCap Games, Rovio Entertainment, and Halfbrick have arranged such partnerships)
  • Advertise your app via social media channels like Sina Weibo, Tencent Weibo, RenRen, and Douban
  • The Tencent App Store should not be ignored. With over 800 million registered users in the Tencent network, if you can promote your app to the top of the Tencent App Store, it will beat any other medium in terms of user reach.
  • Take in account censorship and sensitive issues in China.  Self censorship is much better than to have your app suddenly removed or blocked.

Tips on monetizing your app in China

  • Localize your app: Implement the freemium model with ad support for revenue generation
  • Localize your app: Another model of revenue generation is implementation of virtual goods
  • Monetizing with Ads: Some local ad platforms are: AirAD, AdTO, domob, SmartMad
  • Monetizing with Ads: Some foreign ad platforms are: InMobi, AdMob, iAd, Greystripe
  • Monetizing with Virtual Goods: PapayaMobile’s Gateway to China Program allows Android developers to easily implement virtual goods into their apps

Top 3rd party Android apps stores in China:

From China 2 Valley

1.     Tencent app store. 12.  Yingyonghui
2.     Motorola – Motoplus 13.  Nduoa
3.     91.com/panda space : Net dragon 14.  EOEMarket,
4.     Samsung – Samsung App Store 15.  China Unicom’s WoStore
5.     HI APK- -Net dragon 16.  Mumayi
6.     RIM – Blackberry App World 17.  China Mobile’s MMStore
7.     Go apk– – Investment by Shanda 18.  Aimi8.
8.     LG Application Store 19.  China Telecom’s 189Store
9.     App China- – Dianxin devices 20.  PeaPod
10.  Palm Software Store 21.  Nokia- OVI Store
11.  Go apk- – 22.  Gfan

Top apps in China:

To get an idea of what types of apps Chinese users like, check out this chart provided by TechRice:

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