Most of us ‘Google’ for information but in China, a majority of the people Baidu, which is not to be confused with anything related to the singer Erykah Badu. Baidu offers a range of Google-like services including search, news, a baiduspider and a collaborative encyclopedia, all offered in the Mandarin and Cantonese languages. Chances are that the people who search on Baidu are also on Sina Weibo because “weibo” is the Chinese word for “microblog.” Then there’s Youku where users upload videos, including full length movies. Another thing that’s big in China? Apple products. Apple revenue in China for this year is already at $12.4 billion, with half the year still wide open for business.
The Chinese market for technology is hot and getting hotter, which is why Apple is now urging its app developers to develop apps in Chinese. Market research indicates that 2012 could see 5.5 billion mobile app downloads in China (though not all of it belonging to Apple). Apple also made it easier for Chinese patrons by accepting local currency last fall – as opposed to requiring credit cards with U.S. money. Baidu, Sina Weibo and Youku are all now supported by iOS 6, while text input continues to increase the number of Chinese characters in handwriting recognition. Additionally, Siri can now understand Mandarin and Cantonese.
One example of an app tailored to the Chinese market is Chaopin, an app that collects fashion photos from Sina Weibo to create a photo collage for viewing and shopping. App developers, Stepcase came up with the idea of Chaopin because they noted that Sina Weibo users were engaged in viewing, rating and sharing fashion photos. Since its launch last fall, Chaopin has evolved and continues to evolve. The path from app development to profits in China isn’t as direct and smooth as expected just yet but with such a big market, it’s hard to ignore the possibilities for growth in China.