As your're probably already aware of, Google Play is not all that popular in the People's Republic of China. After the falling out between Google and the Chinese Internet Affairs Bureau a few years back, most of Google's products are spotty at best, while other services are banned outright.
As a result, Android handsets bought through official channels have literally had their Google software guts ripped out and replaced with alternative local services. These handsets won't even allow you to install Google Play if you wanted to. Even on the small number of grey market devices, local app developers have no way to monetize direct through Google IAP so there's little incentive for developers to focus on Google Play.
This has led to the rise and fragmentation of carrier app stores, standalone third party app stores and app stores that are prominent features on some of the most popular utility apps. From our own experience over 70% of your Chinese users will come from these alternative local app stores in the China market.
What does this mean to a western developer who wants to enter the Chinese app market?
Well it certainly makes things more tricky! Gaining access the the world's largest smartphone market presents a few challenges. Not only do you need to deal with the language barrier, but also navigate and decide between the hundreds of Chinese app stores available. You may even find your app is already on those stores, but you won’t actually be getting revenue because your advertising or billing is being hijacked by someone else!
This is part of doing business in China though and luckily, the app stores can be helpful in taking down any offending apps if you can prove it is in fact yours.
There are literally hundreds of app stores available in china and no clear leader. We've simplified things for you and given you a run down of the top 10 third party app stores in china that you ought to cover, giving you over 80% market visibility. With a bit of Google Translator help, you'll be on the best Chinese app stores in no time.
1. 360 market: zhushou.360.cn
360 Market has over 115,000 apps and comes bundled with China's most popular free mobile security app, currently sitting on 70% of all Chinese handsets. With its huge install base, this app store is a no-brainer. Learn more on the 360 app developer portal or go direct to app developer registration.
2. 91 hiapk: apk.hiapk.com
91 HiAPK found immense success on iOS last year. It also implements pre-installs on smartphones by cooperating downstream with with handset manufacturers. They recently announced their 100 millionth user for the platform. App developers register here.
3. Anzhi: www.anzhi.com
4. Xiaomi: app.xiaomi.com
Xiaomi is one of the most successful handset manufactures in China with 7.19 million Chinese users of its low-end Xiaomi smartphones. The Xiaomi app store just so happens to be the default app store for Xiaomi smartphone users. You can you register an account here.
5. D.cn: http://www.d.cn
D.cn used to be the go-to app store for downloading Symbian apps when Symbian was as you could get when it came to smartphones. It was the number one mobile game portal during from 2005 until 2009 and still has a high presence for all OS smartphone apps. App developers can submit their apps here.
6. Gfan: apk.gfan.com
GFan has more than than 12,000,000 registered on the platform plus a whole bunch of partnerships with local OEMs including HTC, Samsung, MOTO, Sony Ericsson, Lenovo and Huawei. In addition, GFan partners with major internet portals and social network sites, like TenCent, Renren.com and Kaixin. To get your app onto GFan's store, register your app developer account here.
7. Baidu market: developer.baidu.com
Baidu, the local Google-defeating giant is the largest Chinese language search engine. The benefits of signing up as a Baidu developer is getting your apps displayed in search results throughout a number of their services including the gigantic search engine. Sign up here.
8. Tencent myapp: android.myapp.com
Tencent is responsible for China's largest and frequented web portal. Its communication platform QQ has become the most-used desktop instant messenger in China. As such, its app store has some serious weight behind it. Register your apps here.
9. Wandoujia: www.wandoujia.com
Wandoujia, was an incubation start up from Innovation Works. They started out as an Android phone management suite for PCs, understanding that Chinese users didn't really like managing their apps from the cloud. They later expanded to provide app downloads by aggregating other sources.
According to Wandoujia’s stats, non-Chinese developers only account for 10 per cent of Wandoujia's app downloads but they for the most popular games, 70 percent are from Chinese App developers. You can add your app to their app store here.
10. AppChina: www.appchina.com
AppChina has big ambitions plans, having recently completed its $6.4 million first round of fundraising. They are the only app store in China with a commitment to pay back double any result of loss from downloading virus infected apps on its store. Get started here.
And there we have it! Our top ten guide to alternative app stores from China. What do you think? Got any more suggestions that didn't make it into the top ten? Let us know in the comments below.