The New International Battlefield for Chinese Mobile Internet Companies is Getjar
A few days ago, we saw Tencent launch their QQ Browser on Getjar in order to target the global market and more specifically, the US. The obvious theme that has been discussed quite a bit lately is that Chinese mobile and Internet companies are increasingly looking international for further growth. What hasn’t been pointed out is that Getjar seems to be becoming a partner of choice for many of these Chinese companies. I met with Chris Dury, COO of Getjar, a few weeks ago during the GMIC Roadshow in Silicon Valley. Chris mentioned that a number of their top customers are actually Chinese companies. In addition to numerous Tencent apps, other Chinese made apps like Baidu search, Sohu news, UC browser, PPTV, Sina Weibo, Netease PocketNBA, Youku and Dolphin Browser have all launched on Getjar. Clearly, the battlefield for China’s mobile internet companies has a new international frontline: Getjar.
What is Getjar?
GetJar’s normal pitch is that they are “the world’s largest free app store”. However, after meeting Michael Song, the CEO of Sky-Mobi, who was with me at the time and claims to have 6 billion accumulated downloads, Chris humorously corrected himself and introduced Getjar as the “world’s largest independent app store…not in China”. Getjar’s published accumulated downloads are 2.2 billion. Regardless of who’s bigger, it’s clear that Getjar is a major partner to developers, having registered 400,000 developers and currently hosting 70,000 apps on their platform. They support some 2100+ phones (smartphones as well as feature phones) on Android, BlackBerry, Java, Symbian, Windows Mobile and others. Aside from the standard app store distribution, Getjar’s 30 million monthly users access Getjar through premium channels including mobile operators, handset providers and other 3rd party channels.
So Why All the Chinese Apps on Getjar?
Chinese tech companies have great difficulty breaking into foreign markets just like foreign companies have difficulty breaking into China (OK, maybe foreign companies in China have it a bit harder). Getjar’s value proposition to Chinese developers is much the same as to other developers but likely amplified a few times for Chinese companies.
Getjar allows developers to support thousands of phones and multiple platforms that they would have otherwise had to specifically develop for. Many of these phones are not supported on the standard Android or iOS app stores. Getjar CEO and founder, Ilja Laurs, says, “GetJar helps its partners distribute on any device, so they can focus on future platforms like Android, as well as their legacy feature phone platforms too.”
With this type of support, it truly allows developers to be global since smartphones popular in the US are very different than the feature phones used in rural India. Our own GWC member and CEO of UC Web, Yu Yongfu points this out,
“We are quite glad to bring wonderful browsing experience to global users through GetJar, we are confident to provide world leading internet service to mobile users all over the world.”
Another GWC member, Liu Chengmin, SEVP of Tencent, may not agree with Yu on UC’s “wonderful browsing experience”, but he does agree with Yu on this point,
“Tencent is pleased to collaborate with GetJar on distributing the mobile QQ browser. This partnership recognizes the joint endeavors of both Tencent and GetJar to make app distribution more open and more global.”
Liu brings up another interesting point about openness. By posting on Getjar, developers don’t have to depend on platform giants like Google and Apple, who’s motives are sometimes questionable, to approve their app (i.e. Apple only allowed a Gmail app on iOS a few weeks ago). Clearly, Getjar is a much easier, less threatening company to work with than the platform giants.
The UC browser launched on Getjar in December, 2010. At the Silicon Valley Chinese Wireless annual conference last September, which I had the pleasure to speak at, Yu Yongfu and his international Director, Robert Tanner mentioned they now have had an accumulated 20 million downloads outside of China. Clearly, Getjar has worked. Unfortunately for UC though, Tencent, Sina, Sohu, Netease and Baidu have noticed and followed them to the new international battlefield that is Getjar.