In many ways, China leads the way internationally in mobile app technology. Find out what puts the country at the forefront of app development, and how U.S. developers might seek to emulate China’s successful market.
In what could prove to be a watershed moment in the mobile gaming industry, Business Insider recently reported that China has pushed past the U.S. in terms of iOS game revenue. Mobile games account for around 75% of revenue in the iOS App Store, and China is poised to become the largest generator of iOS app revenue globally.
What’s more, that iOS revenue makes up a meager portion of the total money made on mobile gaming across the country. The iPhone has dropped to fifth place in the Chinese market, beaten out by local vendors Huawei, Vivo, Oppo, and Xiaomi. China has paved the way for American app developers with a number of app features, and the country continues to be a vanguard of mobile programming.
How China Dominates the Market
As Paul Mozur explains in the New York Times, China’s current success in the mobile sector can be attributed in part to the fact that the country largely skipped its personal computer and credit card era, diving headfirst into smartphones.
For much of China’s population, smartphones are the sole computing device in their lives, as well as the primary purchasing and transactional device. Mozur writes that “Already in China, more people use their mobile devices to pay their bills, order services, watch videos, and find dates than anywhere else in the world.” Long before Tinder, Chinese singles were interacting on an app called Momo. Before the advent of Venmo, people in China were using digital wallets on their smartphones to exchange money.
Chinese apps WeChat and Alipay enable users to make payments by scanning QR codes on restaurant receipts or in stores, a feature that various U.S. apps are now seeking to emulate. China’s mobile apps simplify monetary matters in a way that American apps haven’t yet. As Jesse Bouman writes for Appboy’s blog, “China is currently living in a world that U..S early adopters dream of… a world with no wallets, cards, or cash. All of your financial needs are taken care of with your phone.”
A Different Approach to App Development
What’s more, Chinese app developers approach the mobile market with a different mindset than their American counterparts. Mozur writes that while developers in the U.S. “emphasize simplicity in their apps,” in China the “three major internet companies — Alibaba, Baidu and the WeChat parent Tencent — compete to create a single app with as many functions as they can stuff into it.” Alibaba’s Taobao shopping app, for example, crams a variety of disparate features — the ability to purchase groceries, buy credits for online games, scan coupons, and find deals at local stores — together. Similarly, Baidu’s jam-packed mapping app permits people to request an Uber, make hotel or restaurant reservations, order food, and buy movie tickets.
This maximalist approach to app-making differs from the streamlined, specialized offerings of U.S. developers. “Right now the U.S. doesn’t have a single app that dominates the market like WeChat,” Bouman writes. “Instead, we have different apps for different functions.”
Chinese apps also differ in the way they generate revenue. WeChat, Tencent’s instant messaging app, generates $7 in revenue per user each year and boasts more than 700 million users worldwide. Unlike American apps, where the revenue often comes from ads, much of WeChat’s revenue comes from products, games, and services sold directly within the app. Bouman also notes that Chinese companies exploit chat as a marketing channel in a way that U.S. marketers don’t, using apps like WeChat to interact directly with consumers.
Savvy app makers can glean valuable lessons from China’s app domination. Let China’s app domination inspire you, and #makeanapp today with AppMakr’s do-it-yourself platform.
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