Chinese App Store Growing Despite Obstacles, China Unicom Optomistic

Despite official iPhones not having Wi-Fi, a large population of jailbreakers and rampant app piracy, the Chinese App Store is managing to grow at a healthy rate. Meanwhile, China Unicom is optimistic that the iPhone will become the device top-selling smartphone in China.

Initial iPhone sales were slow and meager compared to the country’s overall population and previous launches in other countries, but China Unicom chairman Chang Xiaobing told reporters at a press conference, “We’re very confident about the market position of the iPhone.”

It’s success will be in spite of it’s lack of Wi-Fi, steep price tag and large population of smuggled jailbroken iPhones already present in the country.

At the same time, their App Store is managing to continue to grow, despite the requirement of all users to own a credit card with a Chinese bank, something uncommon in the country.

Nonetheless, a few applications have managed to become big hits there. Locally produced content like blog and news applications from the Sina.com web portal are particularly popular, as well as Chinese versions of western apps like Quickoffice and EA’s Command and Conquer.

The market for legitimate Chinese iPhone apps is small but surging. Mr. Shi’s company estimates about $1 million worth of legitimate iPhone apps have been sold so far this year, though the market could reach $6 million by next year. By comparison, mobile advertising firm AdMob says about $200 million in apps are sold overall through Apple’s store each month.

Other popular games include Need for Speed Undercover and Gold Miner 2, as well as local classics like Autonavi, the store’s only navigation app for China, which is also the store’s most profitable app.

[via Bloomberg, WSJ]

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