App Invasion: 5 Tips To Enter the Chinese App Market

flag loopIf you are an app developer, your dream is probably along the lines of having your baby app achieve millions of downloads. But these dreams often fall short, with over 500 new apps flooding just the Apple App Store itself each day, even very well written apps have a very hard time standing out of the crowd, let alone achieve a million downloads. Part of my job at PreApps is to help these developers get international exposure through App Store Optimization and other channels so these apps could reach their goal. Why International exposure? Well, the domestic app market in the US is simply too hard to fully penetrate, with only the big name companies and a handful of others being able to do so. Under very rare occurrences that independent developers’ apps reach the top of the app store. They are like miracles, like idols that inspire millions of developers in the world to keep hustling for their dream. It’s hard, but there are still plenty of ways, the easiest way of reaching the millions of downloads you want would probably be targeting the international market, and what better market there is than China’s. Invading the largest smartphone market on earth is not an easy task, but I am here to share a couple tips and tricks that might help you.

Learn Chinese

imageThe biggest barrier into any international market is always the same one — the language barrier. It goes without saying that the Chinese read, write, and speak in Chinese, so the app must obviously be in Chinese! duh… Make sure every detail and every button is in Chinese to optimize user experience. Not only should you change the language used within the app, but the app name itself also has to be in Chinese. Choosing a name is a very delicate process, and should definitely consult with knowledgeable local marketers before making the decision. Uber did a good job and picked 优步 — which means “nice ride.” LinkedIn chose 领英 — which means “best talent.” Chinese love titles with meaning, unlike the english world — uber wasn’t even a word before the existence of the company.

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Party with 3rd Party App Stores

There are literally hundreds of Android mobile stores in China, each focusing on a specific niche, demographic or region. According to Talking Data, 70.5% of Chinese mobile gamers use Android devices, but because of Google Play’s limited presence, a diverse ecosystem of app stores has flourished. 3rd Party App stores had became major players and each of them controls a segment of the market. Major 3rd party stores include Tencent’s MyApp and Baidu’s Mobile Assistant.china-app-market

Slow down

imagesThe speed of China’s mobile networks still lags behind most of the other developed countries, and much slower than other asian cities like Japan or Korea. If your app is graphics-heavy or for many other reasons eats up a lot of data and making it loading slow, it will most likely be abandoned. Make sure you need to optimize the app’s data usage so that it works fast enough on a much slower network speed.

Make New Friends

The integration of the social media channels allows you to utilize your profile information and friends-list on other apps. Everywhere else is the world, social media integration is great. But your app won’t work in China if it is linked to Facebook or Twitter as those are inaccessible from the Mainland. Same goes for sharing and retweeting functions. If social media is essential for your app, make sure to integrate the most popular local social media platforms such as Sina and Tencent Weibo, YouKu or WeChat.china-us

Pirates of the East

Piracy is definitely one of the major concerns if you choose to enter the Chinese market, every popular app has its own local counterpart. Annoying to say the least, but these apps are copying you because your app works! That is something you can be proud of, and don’t sweat too much about it. On top of that, the good thing for smaller app copycats is that the right local partner can help make sure any copycat apps are removed from app stores. Make friends and find local allies to help you work directly with app-store editors. Connections can go a long way in China, keep that in mind and things will go rather smoothly.212809-chinesepirates
There is much more than to learn about invading the Chinese market than the above few points. But these are just some of the major things to keep in mind. As long as you are mindful and careful, things will eventually workout, unless you are going directly against the government. Just stay focused on your business and continue to execute by following China’s rules. Let us know what else is there to know about the Chinese App Market or what you think about these pointers below in the comments.

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HC Lau
Posted By

HC Lau

HC is originally from Hong Kong and has been living in Boston for the last 4 years. He is a recent graduate at Babson College and is now working as a marketing associate at PreApps. He is a huge tennis fan, and used to play everyday. But he picked up a lot of bad habits in college, and is now just a dork glued to his laptop screen.

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