Grab a Piece of This Tasty Cake (with Cautions!)

Google Play cakePreface: Though this blog may mainly target Chinese developers, it is also insightful for developers who want to extend business into other potential markets.

The news might be a bit old, but is still a brilliant and exciting one for every Chinese Android developer. Ellie Powers, Product Manager for Google Play announced on Nov. 19th that Google Play is now officially open to Chinese Android developers. Though it’s still a bit far for Chinese smartphone users to see Google Play services in mainland of China, Google’s latest action indeed encourages millions of Chinese developers to accelerate or build up the strategy of globalization.

That being said, what does it really mean to Chinese Android developers? On a large scale, two positive outcomes can be expected:

First of all, making money from apps listed on the Google Play. Obviously, accessing to Google Play allows more Chinese devs/companies to directly offer their products and do business abroad through various business model (e.g. in-app purchasing, subscriptions). Especially for successful developers in China, they might be able to move upwards and onwards in oversea markets and generate more USD in their Chinese bank account.

More importantly, easy app control and publication on the Google Play. In the past, it was really a pain in the neck for Chinese devs that wanted to get their Android apps exposed to users from other countries. To acquire the market share other than home country, Chinese devs needed to have someone (either partner or its own oversea branch) to create a Google Play account with an oversea address and register as a Google developer. And for those who have no relationship outside of China, Google Play was just a very tasty but untouchable cake. But now, things have turned around.

Think Global, Act Local – Think Wisely, Act Carefully

While a global mindset seems to be a wise and strategic thought, Chinese devs, especially those who have never done business abroad (but also including veterans), should act carefully in the western markets.

I’m not going into more depth on things like the use of local language and locale and the (slight) UI change for bespoke style (as I assume every dev understand it). Let’s take a look at three major problems that could be overseen:

  • Pilot Markets. Western markets are enticing, I know. But don’t rush! Spending a lion share of your budget on the biggest markets (like the U.S. and EU) in the very beginning is never a wise move. Instead, you can select few of the popular markets, e.g. Canada, New Zealand and Singapore as testbeds. For example, gaming giants like Supercell usually select Canada as the primary market to test new games. Reasons are that Canada has the similar buying behavior and tech adoption trends as the U.S. and many of EU countries. By testing in Canada, you will get reliable and valuable data on how to make it right in the U.S. and EU.
  • App Store Optimization (ASO). Every digital marketer and website designer knows to conduct search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure that their website gets indexed by search engines and found by searchers. Now, the same philosophy goes to mobile applications in the app stores. As most of Chinese devs are totally new to Google Play, the strategy you are currently using on the third-party Android markets might not work on Google Play. And your success in China does not necessarily mean the same story in other markets, either. Given that, it is critical to improve the visibility of your apps or games so that you would get a better ranking and drive more downloads in an even more crowded market, Google Play.
  • Device Versatility. While you are facing tens of thousands of device models in China every day, you should be aware that going global will greatly exacerbate this situation. Testing in pilot markets might give you a glance at how device diversity outside of China looks like, but that’s just a tip of the iceberg. With different network mode, for instance, you might even see such a review – “It doesn’t work very well on my Samsung Galaxy S5 (from Brazil), 2 stars for now until you get this fixed.”, while you just confirmed how perfectly it works on your own Samsung Galaxy S5 located in China. Therefore, before you extensively pave the way in other markets, make sure that your apps or games are well-tested on a large scale of devices. While buying those devices are very costly and sometimes impossible, relying on a cloud-based mobile app testing service, like Testdroid Cloud, would definitely save your bacon.


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