10 Nov The Scoop on the China iOS App Store
It seems that the China iOS App Store is always in the news. From the latest Apple earnings report to the App Store’s first (and second) malware attack, it’s the center of much attention. And why not? China now downloads the most apps out of any country, fueling the App Store’s growth. The App Store is one of most successful foreign tech products to operate in China. However, like any global product trying to break into China, the China iOS App Store has characteristics that make it different from App Stores the in rest of the world.
A (Very Brief) History of iOS in China
Over the past few years, Apple has been gobbling up device market share and bringing users to the China iOS app store. With rising incomes, a preference for bigger screens, and a consumer fascination with Western brands, iPhones have been selling like mad in China. There are now 24 retail stores in China and this number is expected to reach 60 by the middle of 2016.
This growth, of course, means a boom in iOS market share. Newzoo
reported iOS’s game revenue market share at 25% in Q3 2013. Recent numbers now put market share at 38%.
What’s different in China?
As is the case with anything in China, the China iOS app Store is subject to censorship. Although certain apps (such as Facebook) simply won’t function over China’s networks, Apple has also worked diligently to keep China’s censors happy. The App Store recently blocked its News App in China and has previously shut off apps relating to controversial topics, such as the Dalai Lama.
There are also significant differences between China’s iOS and Android users. Whereas Android users aren’t able to access Google Play and can only access local Chinese app stores, iOS consumers have most of the App Store’s global content available at their fingertips and are more likely to be familiar with foreign content. This greater availability is a factor behind the number of apps installed by OS- almost half of iOS users have more than 50 apps installed, whereas only 16% of China’s Android users install that many. There are other factors that also influence this division, such as the smaller storage space offered by Chinese Android devices.
Generally, China’s iOS users are wealthier. As the iPhone is very expensive in China, owning one is seen as a status symbol. These wealthier iOS consumers are also more likely to buy and spend time on paid apps, although this is still rare for any Chinese consumer group.
Lower barriers to entry
Although the China iOS app store is open for Western games, many outsiders choose not to publish apps on that store. Why? First of all, piracy is a threat. Releasing on one platform increases visibility and piracy frequency on both platforms. Secondly, the Chinese market strongly prefers localized apps. Most apps will simply not perform in China if the proper adjustments, such as translation and monetization changes, aren’t made. Localization, and working with a China partner, will also increase the likelihood of an App Store feature, a free and crucial marketing tool.
The China iOS app store is an impressive and quickly growing revenue opportunity and, with relatively low barriers to entry, it’s a chance to quickly test the market with a partially localized product. Want to try a soft launch? Simple and quick steps to help appeal to the world’s largest market can be made- like localizing your game name with the help of an expert or tweaking monetization with a few new purchase points. With initial testing, you can see what changes your product would need to make splashes in China’s mobile market on both iOS and Android app stores.