The population of China has long eclipsed the US, and that number is a staggering difference that’s been largely ignored by smartphone manufacturers. This year might change that, because Strategy Analysts are predicting that for the first time, the Chinese smartphone market might be gaining on the US in terms of revenue by becoming the world’s largest market for handsets.
Children’s app publisher TabTale has today announced its acquisition of Coco Play Limited, a Hong Kong and China-based developer of educational apps and games for children. The deal will see TabTale extending its reach into China and is part of the company’s goal to expand its overall global presence.
Via the deal, Coco Play’s team will join TabTale, bringing its apps’ two million monthly active users into TabTale’s community. Coco Play is behind popular apps including Coco Princess and Amazing Coloring Studio, which have reached the spot of “No. 1 free kids app” in territories including China.
Chinese gaming company Hoolai Games is hoping to become a breakout developer in 2014, as it continues to experience large growth in revenue in its games on iOS, Android, Tencent and other platforms. For Q1 2014, Hoolai tripled its revenue quarter-over-quarter, with the Chinese version of its Wartune strategy RPG accounting for more than 40 percent of the company’s mobile revenue to start 2014.
After a successful end to 2013, mobile games publisher Yodo1 has announced a new player milestone, as its catalog of titles has passed 100 million players worldwide. Yodo1 attributes the recent growth to the launch of the Chinese edition of Cut the Rope 2, which was co-developed with Zeptolab. According to Yodo1, the game was downloaded about 2 million times on iOS within the first 10 days on the market in China.
Mobile games publisher Yodo1 has today announced a new division for publishing games on the global market, in addition to continuing to publish Western games in China. Yodo1 will publish games across iOS and Android on both Google Play and the Amazon App Store. The company’s publishing expansion is led by Cavemania, a puzzle action game from Dallas-based studio BonusXP, which is set to launch this September.
China’s most popular search engine, Baidu, has purchased mobile app distributor 91 Wireless for $1.09 billion as reported by CIO Today. Baidu has said it would purchase 57 percent of 91 Wireless Websoft Ltd. The companies have until August 13 to agree to terms on the transaction.
91 Wireless operates 91 Assistant and HiMarket, two smartphone app distribution platforms in China. It has said that these markets have been used to download more than 10 billion apps making it China’s biggest third-party app distributor by both active users and downloads.
The purchase of 91 Wireless shows its efforts at better establishing itself in mobile search, where it has lost traction to other competitors. This is second acquisition for Baidu in the recent months, purchasing Internet video service PPS Net for $370 million in May. These moves show the company is striving to venture past search to match competitors moves. For example, rival search service Alibaba purchased an 18 percent stake in Weibo, a microblogging Service in China similar to Twitter.
The mobile market in China was predicted to surpass the US market by Q1 2013 last November. In February, this prediction rang true. With the purchase of 91 Wireless, Baidu is looking to become the starting page page for all mobile devices in China. At the price of $1.09 billion for only 57 percent of the company, it also shows that it is willing to spend a pretty penny to make that possible.
China’s largest web company Tencent recently launched a TV commercial campaign for its messaging app WeChat which targets the Singaporen market.
The TV commercial features two Taiwanese celebrities — Alan Luo Zhi-Xiang and Raine Yang. The commercial, which can be seen here, shows the two stars demonstrating some functions of the app, including a voice recognition functionality and stickers, a special emoji. The same TV commercial was used in Taiwan. The TV spot will air on free-to-air channels including Channel 8, Channel U, W drama and E-City starting this week.
Louis Song, country manager of Tencent’s international business group for Malaysia and Singapore, said the Chinese web giant hopes to increase the app’s presence and market share in the country.
“Singapore is a very strong market like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Thailand,” he says. “We are witnessing a sturdy growth in mobile application platforms.”
At the 2013 Boao Forum For Asia in early April, Tencent president Martin Lau revealed that WeChat now has more than 40 million overseas users. In total, WeChat last reported that its user base was more than 300 million. Compared to other messaging apps in the Asian markets, Line Corp.’s Line currently has 120 million users, up by 20 million since January, and South Korean KakaoTalk has 70 million users. In the U.S., messaging app giants like WhatsApp haven’t released user base figures, but its estimated to be as high as 300 million, and Kik Messenger has officially said it now has more than 50 million registered users.
As Kik Interactive CEO Ted Livingston recently told Inside Mobile Apps, “messaging is the killer app in mobile.” Adding that whoever wins messaging will win this era of computing. While the messaging market remains very fragmented, WeChat making a market play in Singapore is another sign of a company wanting to spread its reach and become a global player in messenging.
Full-service Chinese mobile games publisher Yodo1 announced it has secured $5 million in Series A Funding. The round was led by SingTel Group with additional funding from original investor Chang You Fund.
Yodo1 CEO Henry Fong said in a statement that the main challenge for the company now is keeping up with Western developers eager to join its roster of partners. For this reason, the new funding will be used to expand Yodo1′s production capacity to work with more Western game companies and build the company’s platform and production team.
Yodo1, which came out of stealth in June 2012 with $2 million in seed funding, helps its publishing partners crack the Chinese market by focusing on app store distribution, social distribution, payments and advertising. Yodo1 also does a deep dive into the localization process with a fully-staffed studio of artists and developers who work with Western partners to adapt their games to Chinese tastes.
Social game distribution and monetization company PapayaMobile announced the launch of a new SDK to help independent Android developers access the Chinese mobile market.
The first free game with in-app purchases to launch in China using the new SDK will be Scottish developer Cobra Mobile’s WW2 shooter iBomber for Android.
The PapayaMobile SDK helps Android app and game developers monetize by plugging into the company’s cross-promotion and ad network AppFlood, where they can buy, sell or exchange ads and traffic with advertisers and other publishers.
More importantly, the SDK also plugs into China Mobile, China’s biggest mobile operator with more than 700 million subscribers, to allow for in-app purchasing via carrier billing.
Carrier billing is tremendously important if not absolutely necessary in order to monetize in the Chinese market. In November 2012, CocoaChina’s US GM Lei Zhang Zhang told us that carrier billing accounted for 90 percent of Fishing Joy 2’s total revenue of $1.6 million per month. At the 2013 Game Developers Conference Yodo1’s CEO Henry Fong told us that there may be other companies that are able to push games and apps to the many Android app stores in China, but that only those with standing deals with the mobile carriers and access to carrier billing will be able to monetize.
The official release from PapayaMobile claims that the company is taking the lead in opening up the Chinese market to Western developers, but in reality they are already in competition with big and established players such as the aforementioned Yodo1 (which also offers important localization services), InMobi’s App Publish distribution platform which can push an app or game to more than 130 Android app stores in a few clicks, and others.
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