Android in China – what kind of apps are popular?

Android is the most popular mobile operating system in China. It holds a share of about 78% of the Chinese market. The second most popular is iOS, with a share of about 21%. How is Android in China possible if Google and its services are blocked in China?

Android in China

China is the world’s largest smartphone market. Android is a prominent Google product that conquered the Chinese market, used mostly on tablets and smartphones. The thing is, devices sold in China cannot have Google service pre-installed. Manufacturers cannot sell devices with Gmail, Google Translate, Google Drive, Play Store, etc. So why is Android in China popular?

Android is open-source software and can be modified by Chinese companies that manufacture smartphones, like OPPO, Honor, and Vivo. The companies use Android, but their devices run on their UI. They make changes in the source code to make their versions of Google apps, like cloud, email, maps, and app store.

What is China’s Android ecosystem?

There are over 400 Android app stores in China. Leading Chinese smartphone manufacturers that use open-source Android are:

  • Xiaomi
  • Huawei
  • Oppo
  • Vivo
  • ZTE
  • Lenovo
  • Meizu

There are also 3rd party app stores, like Wandoujia, Baidu Mobile Assistant, and Tencent MyApp.

Top Android apps in China

  • Huawei AppGallery (华为应用市场)
  • Tencent MyApp (应用宝)
  • Oppo Software Store (OPPO软件商店)
  • Vivo App Store (vivo应用商店)
  • Xiaomi App Store (小米应用商店)
  • 360 Mobile Assistant (360手机助手)
  • Baidu Mobile Assistant (百度手机助手)

Can you use Google Android in China?

  • If you buy a device in China (smartphone, tablet) and want to use Google Apps, you have to root the device and replace the operating system. It is not recommended since the device can get corrupted (bricked device), and you will be unable to use it.
  • If you buy a device outside China with pre-installed Google Apps, you can use them in China. To “unblock” the apps, you must use a VPN that routes your data traffic via an encrypted virtual tunnel. Install ExpressVPN before you arrive in China.

The bottom line

There are over 970 million smartphone users in China. If you have your own app and want to launch it in China, make the app available in app stores like Huawei, Tencent, and Oppo since the Chinese cannot use Google Apps on their devices.

Many foreign developers want to increase their share in this promising market, but until now, applications from outside China are not very popular. To be a roaring success, you have to understand the Chinese market. There is one sphere, though, in which foreign software companies are quite successful (70% market share!) – mobile games.

What type of mobile game should you launch? The freemium model would be the best choice: the Chinese are not willing to pay for the game itself, but they may buy some in-game “currency” or additional power-ups, this particular model has been present in China for a long time.