Eastern Promise

Clicky Vadim_bigger_photoVadim Rogovskiy, CEO of Clickky, looks at the potential for app marketing in China.

2013 was a real landmark for the mobile app marketing industry. For the first time ever, Google Play outran the Apple App Store for app downloads, and the US lost the lead to Japan in terms of app store revenues.

Moreover, neither the US nor Europe hit the top three positions in terms of mobile app market growth. The leaders in this respect are (in order): Japan, S. Korea and China. During 2013, well-developed and consolidated European and American markets were outstripped by hungry, rapidly-developing Asian ones. Japanese and S. Korean markets are quite transparent, but China is still something of a black spot for mobile app developers.

Closed market
On one hand, the market is huge. Currently, Chinese people have the most mobile devices in the world. A total of 900m mobile phones have been sold in China. More than 400m of these are smartphones. On the other hand, China is still a rather closed market for developers, and therefore very challenging.

The problem is that developers do not know much about Chinese users. The Android OS leads the way on smartphones and tablets in China, accounting for 90 per cent of smartphones. That’s why the Android mobile app market in China is one of the most promising in the world. Samsung has the biggest market share, with 21 per cent. Lenovo is in second position on 13 per cent, and Apple had only 5 per cent of market at the end of 2013.

The banning of Google Play in China has created alternative mobile markets. The role of official authorized platform for distribution of Android mobile apps was divided by literally hundreds of markets, but 90 per cent of mobile traffic in China is generated by the 20 biggest destinations. The most popular are Qihoo, Tencent and Baidu.

Qihoo (or Qihoo 360 to be more precise) is a software development corporation which has created its own antivirus solution, browser and search engine. It also owns the biggest Android app store. Qihoo’s audience totals more than 400m Chinese internet users.

Tencent is a media corporation operating on an even bigger scale. It owns the biggest internet portal in China and has a huge amount of advertising inventory on the portal and in its mobile apps.

Baidu is another search engine, boasting 130m daily users. It is also leading web enterprise of China. In the summer of 2013, Baidu acquired 91 wireless, another Chinese app store, for almost $2bn.

Personal connections
Although the numbers and scale are impressive in China, in reality, it’s hard for app developers to succeed here. You need to have personal connections and hold multiple face-to-face negotiations to penetrate the country. If you’re going to use a mobile app promotion service to make inroads in China, use one that is well established in the country, with good relationships and a track record of successful app promotion and marketing in the country.

Vadim Rogovskiy is CEO of Clickky