Apple’s App Store and Google’s, Google Play, is widely known as the 2 most popular platforms, smartphone users download apps from worldwide. If you have an Apple, you download from the App Store, if you have a Android you download your apps from Google play. Easy. But this is not the case in China.
The China smartphone market is like opening up a can of worms where the user segmentation is staggering. Currently in the OS (Operating System) market share, in China, Android controls 74.44% of the market whereas iOS lags behind at 24.73%.
Whereas, in the US, iOS is a little bit more relevant with 37.1% of the market share vs 60.4% market share that Android owns.
Although it’s well known that iOS users monetize better, the sheer volume of Android Users can expect the bottom line to be relatively keep up. The theory doesn’t hold true in the China market.
Surprisingly enough the Google Play Store, has less than 5% coverage in China. What this means is that China’s store market share competition is real and publishers and developers have a different barrier of entry to the market based on which app platform they release on. Before i ramble on about this dynamic, below is a list of App Stores in China and their market coverage.
To summarize the major players in the tech industry end up developing their own platform on the Android in attempt to take market share of this rampantly expanding industry.
Below are the top 5 app stores and a bit of their background.
MyApp / Tencent: Maybe the biggest digital content company in the world
360 / 360 Mobile Assistant: 360 was originally an anti virus but the install rate for this program was so high that they decided to become a platform.
Baidu: The most popular search engine in China, and a no brainer to start their own platform. Effectively the real google play of China
XIaomi: In 2016 reported to claim 26% of the China Smartphone Market share, easily beating Apple’s 8.2% market share.
Huawei: Another big player in the Smartphone development market, reportedly owning 8% of the market in China.
Google play unfortunately is sitting at the 8 spot with about 4% coverage which doesn’t entice players to develop for this platform. One of the bigger value propositions domestic publishers provide for the developers versus Google is their power to funnel millions of users to their game if the product is sound and meets the quality standard of their platform. Google may support the top studios in the back but is never forward facing to developers of their relationships with developer with the ‘attempt’ to create equality, even though as a publicly traded agenda, all product managers need to meet revenue projections.
Of the 1.37 Billion people in China, the smartphone market has experienced around 50% saturation rate reportedly experiencing about 730+ million users connected to the internet via smartphone. There is still a lot of room to grow for all the different platforms in the market and the battle for market share is happening below our very eyes. Very similar to what is going on with the Ride Hailing App market in San Francisco, the competition is so fierce that apps are pricing each other out by subsidizing drivers based on behavior that the UA acquisition has gone beyond just video ads and interstitials. The user acquisition war in China is still relatively blue ocean as another 30% – 40% of the China market is still untapped, which means more blood is in the horizon before we seen any calm. (My hot take for the day)
All i know is that if it isn’t already, it’s gonna get ugly pretty fast over there. (The calm before the storm)