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4 Big Ways Apple App Store Beats Android in China

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Hi fellow gamedevs,

I have been asked many times how Apple App Store compares to Android markets in China, which route a western app developer should go first, how to tackle the piracy and local payment integration issues, etc.


For the benefit of every app developer, I thought it is good to do a comparison here. Let’s dive into it…


1. The Market


Android - Fragmented Market
Since Google Play is mostly not yet accessible in China, the whole Android market is fragmented into hundreds of small app markets. Managing updates and promotions is tedious.

Apple - Single Largest Market
Apple App Store is the single largest app market in China. It takes a couple of top Android app markets to beat the size of the Apple app store.

2. Payment Integration

Android - Complex Payment Systems
You have to include Alipay, Tenpay, Weibo Payment, and Union Pay to cover more than half of your users. To make the situation worse, the set of supported payment systems you need to implement varies across different app markets.

Apple - No Third-Party Payment
Apple does not allow third-party payment system, so you just need to stick with the same code.

3. Piracy

Android - Uncontrolled Piracy
Banning clone is rarely done properly in China. If your apps are good, rest assured many Chinese developers will find the ways to clone your apps and publish them freely in China (and claim their clones is original).

Apple - Respect Intellectual Properties
Apple has been active in banning clones.


4. Average Revenue Per User (ARPU)

Android - Lower ARPU
US$0.7–0.9 for freemium games

Apple - Higher ARPU 
US$1.2–1.5 for freemium games


Because of the complication of Android markets, even Clash of Clans failed to make a single penny when it first launched its Android version in China.

It is a no-brainer that Apple App Store is the better route to go. You can find many successful western apps in the App Store but successful western Android apps in China are rare.

So if you have an iOS app, good for you! You are almost ready to go China!

Cheers! and Happy New Year! 


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With regards to cloning, is cloning a game illegal in China?

I don't know about there but in the West you cant patent or copyright a game idea or gameplay mechanic so as long as you don't copy names and graphics etc it's acceptable which is why there are so many flappy bird clones...

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Yes, cloning is illegal in China.  In fact, the law in publishing an app in China is more strict than anywhere else in the world.  When you publish a tiniest app in the Chinese Android markets, you need a certificate from the government to show your app is original and genuine.  The problem is that catching everyone is impossible because there are so many apps in the Android markets.  Also, there are only very few authorities actively removing the illegal apps, so that's why the law is in place but no one is executing the law. 


Right now, Apple is actively banning illegal apps in China.  When Google re-enters China in the future, it probably will be doing the same as well.

Edited by meatti

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