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How to Distribute Your App in China

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For day and night's coding and designing, your work is finally paying off: people are downloading your apps! As you are satisfied with your millions of users in US and Europe, don't ignore huge opportunities in China.

According to a report, Chinese customers would buy 500 million smart phones in 2015. If the average consume on apps and games is 100 RMB, which means China is breeding a new 50 billion RMB mobile market! As we go deep into the market share, Samsung holds the 27% smart phone market, Apple 20%, and Windows Phone the poor 1%. The left shares belong to Android system, that is 79% of Chinese smart phone are running on Android.

Chinese customers love Android smart phones. One reason is that Chinese smart phone manufacturers make a lot of affordable and cost-performance smart phones, and the other reason is that the Android system fits Chinese consume habit. The popularity of Android among them let them know one fact: almost everything can be done in a smart phone which the fact contributed to the startup trend of China's Mobile Internet. People can live without a PC or Mac, but they can't stand a life without smart phone! You may say cheap smart phone has lower performance, many apps and games can't run smoothly, but recently, affordable smart phones made in China are better than some high-end brands.

However, the Intellectual Property protection awareness of Chinese people is still under the average line in the world. They like free things, when iPhone came to China; they wanted their iPhone jail-broken. Only for one reason, after the jailbreak, they can install many apps and games for free. Things are changing now; more and more people understand what IP is and want to pay for the developer's wisdom! And the Chinese government is strengthening the law and regulation on IP Protection. Any app violated laws or rules, would be banned.

To conclude, China is a huge market that developers can't miss, no matter what kinds of application you have developed, you will find your position in China and grab a share of it!

In this Mars blog, we will tell you how to get your first Chinese user, how to market your apps in China and how to win it!

Rule No.1: Translation Matters

Actually, most Chinese users don't know English, not to say other languages. Before your apps come to China, please at least translate your interface and function introduction page to Chinese. FYI, in China mainland, people use the Simplified Chinese and in Taiwan and Hong Kong, people use the Traditional Chinese. But don't worry, though they are not written in the exactly same characters, the meaning of the characters are the same. You need to find professional translators for different language styles. You can submit an online project mission; let capable professionals to finish the job quickly. For example, put a task on MarsTranslation.com. It won't cost you a lot.

Rule No.2: Get Custom Support Ready

Chinese users would face many problems while using your app, once it has come to China. If the users paid for app, you'd better provide them great custom support. We suggest you to hire a part-time or full-time customer service staff, let him/her answer questions from Chinese users and finish the daily customer service job. You can set up an office in China Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou. Only 2–3 full-time staff is enough. Salary of every staff only cost you 5–7K RMB (which is quite lower than it in US). The China office can help you do a lot of works, including custom support, marketing, app-distribution and legal works.

Rule No.3: Be Ready To Face Picky Users

Though Chinese users like to try new apps, it doesn't mean they can accept all. Only quality apps can escape the fate of being deleted. So, first, get your app great. If you just want to sell some ad or put some malware to their phones, your apps won't pass the app store audition. If you were lucky enough to pass the review, low app rates won't let you survive in Chinese app market.

Rule No.4: Just Refuse Google In China For One-Time

Because of the censorship, Google is no longer accessible in China. So, Chinese Android Smartphone can't use the Google Play Service or any other Google Play Plugin or API. If in you code were found APIs from Google, or display-ad from Ad Words or Admob, please change to other ad service providers, such as Microsoft Bing or Yahoo or Rapid Fire and so on. If not, you would find that, Google Ads are not showing up or loading very slowly, and users can't load the apps or games using Google Play Service. That's a bummer for user experience. If what you developed is for iOS devices, you don't need to worry the API problem, just change the ad provider is okay. But do a double check, make sure there is no Google code in your apps or contents.

Also, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube API were banned in China too. Change it to Chinese local social network's API, Such as RenRen, Weibo and Wechat. Here are some popular websites for you to know how to use their APIs.

WeiboOpen Platform: http://open.weibo.com/

Weibo API: http://open.weibo.com/wiki/%E9%A6%96%E9%A1%B5/en

WeChat Open Platform: https://open.weixin.qq.com/ (Only Chinese)

RenRen API: http://open.renren.com/wiki/English_version_for_API2

Rule No.5: Be Aware of Copycats!

Though IP Protection Awareness is growing, but a talented Chinese developer can copy an exactly the same app as yours and use their resource to beat you down in Chinese market.

So, set up a company in China is very essential and necessary. They can handle the legal work in this case. If you sue them, the court would support you; if you choose nonchalance, your app will die soon.

Rule No.6: Chinese Version Is The Best Choice

The first 1K and 10K download is easy for your app, but if you want get 100K download, it’s time to have a Chinese version. Problems occur, for example, content censorship and government relationship and business development.

FYI, if your app provide special social network, don’t bother come to China. Almost every social app from foreign countries died.

Main Distribution Channel

There are lots of third-party app markets besides the official App Stores, be it Android or iOS. They run the markets like Amazon App Store without code changing.

Android Third-party Markets in China

Because Google doesn't provide services in China Mainland anymore, so we don't have to talk about Google Play Store. But recently, there were news said Google intended to come back to China, we may cover that when it comes back.

Android: Click the URL after the names, they will lead you into their App Submission Pages.

Wandoujia Developer Center (豌豆荚): http://developer.wandoujia.com/

Tencent Developer Center (应用宝): http://open.qq.com/

Baidu Assitant (百度助手): http://app.baidu.com/apps

360 Phone Assistant (360手机助手): http://dev.360.cn

Xiaomi App Store (小米应用商店): http://dev.xiaomi.com

91 Phone Assistant (91手机助手) http://market.sj.91.com/Users/Login.aspx

You can also contact them through Email if you don't know how to operate and can't speak Chinese. Here is a template for you to send a mail to these third-party market operators.

Template:

Subject: 国外 [Your Team Name] 团队的 [Your App Name]App 想要进入中国市场,你们能帮我们吗?

Content: 尊敬的 [Name of Third-Party Market] 运营者,你们好。 感谢你在百忙之中查看这封电子邮件!

我们是来自 [Your Country] 的 [Your Team Name],我们开发了一个名叫 [Your App Name] 的应用程序或游戏。它在过去的 [How Many Months Since It’s Listed In App Stores, put numbers here] 月内,下载量超过 [Download Counts],评分 [App Rates],受到了用户和玩家的欢迎。

中国是一个正在急速发展的国家,我们希望能参与到中国移动互联网的发展中,希望你们能够帮助我们,让我们的应用程序能够登录你们的 [Name of Third-Party Market],让更多中国用户用上我们的 app 和游戏。

附件中为我们的应用程序,它 [1.已经/2.尚未 (if it's translated ,choose 1, if not choose 2] 翻译成汉语。

请回复我们的邮件,让我们知道你们的需求。如有其他商务联络,也请一并回复。商祺!

[Your Team Name]

There are tens of millions iOS jailbreak users in China, so you can also submit your apps to Jailbreak Market. This distribution channel fit alpha and beta version. Only 3K Assistant and 91 Assistant are recommended.