7 Tips on App Localization for the Chinese Market

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Do you think the app market is the same for every country? Think again! Here are seven tips for developers to be successful on the Chinese app market.

China has more smartphone users than any other country in the world. No wonder that it is worth the effort for app developers to tap into this vast market!

On Readwite.com, vice president of Greater China for Kii Corporation Dominique Tu, gives app developers 7 great tips for developers aiming to expand their scope to the Asian country!

1.    Localization: it’s more than translation

Many app developers in the western world think that their product will have success in China if they simply translate the text of their application. However, Tu says this is only the beginning of the localization process: “In China, you must also localize your product with the country’s native social network platforms.” As Facebook and Twitter are blocked, developers should integrate their Chinese equivalents such as Sine Weibo and Tencent Weibo into their apps. In addition, because of the Great Firewall of China, it is also important for developers to integrate their apps into cloud systems based in China.

2.    Cloud Technology in China is still maturing

Microsoft Skydrive might be an exception, but most Web-based drive services in China are not that stable. The Great Firewall means it is important to have a local storage partner. However, China is likely to make up for lost time very quickly, meaning the cloud services will probably reach the western levels in a number of years.

3.    Be Prepared to Hand in Money

On the Chinese market, not only do the app stores take 30% of the developer’s earnings, but he also has to hand in an additional 20% to the Chinese government in the form of takes and regulation fees. These costs can be absorbed by a local partner, which is how Apple China handles this.

4.    Rethink your payment methods

In China, it is not very common for consumers to pay by credit card. In fact, Tu says “China is still a cash-based society.” This means developers have to work harder to make money via app store purchases. A great way of doing so is integrating local payment options, for example Alipay. China’s three mobile carriers, China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile, should not be overlooked either, as these can allow in-app payment. Most Chinese apps, about 75%, is paid via direct carrier billing. As these services usually don’t speak English, it is crucial to hire a Chinese-speaking engineer who can communicate with them properly.

5.    Obey the law

As there is a lot of intellectual property piracy in the country, many developers think there are no rules in China that they need to adhere to. However, Tu says the opposite is true: “In China, each local market has its own app certification and QA process. Yes, that means hundreds of app stores with their own sets of regulations.”  Developers must thus decide what stores they want to sell their products in and establish relationships with these stores. This also means that the certification and QA process must be carried out with each individual store. Changes in recent privacy laws should also be reviewed.

6.    There are loads of app stores

In China, there are many different app stores: some provinces or cities have their own store, there are stores for demographic markets and even for market segments such as office workers. Tu believes developers should pick their stores based on the type of apps they have on offer. To ensure developers choose the right markets leaders, they must also examine traffic trends, he says. Wandoujia is said to have become Chinas most popular Android App Store.

7.    Your app might be in China as you read this

Many western and Japanese app developers are a little hesitant to launch their product in China, as the country is known for its IP theft and copycatting. However, because the country is infamous for just these things, it is safe to say most apps have already made it to the Asian country. According to Tu, there is a way to surpass this problem: “The only feasible solution to this problem is working with a local partner who is familiar with the China app stores eco-system, to insure the illegitimate apps are pulled, and replaced by the standard, official app.”

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