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Intel, Latest Technology

Android in China: An Undiscovered App Market?

A new report from Chinese search engine company Baidu this week revealed mobile trends with Android users in China. A few of the most intriguing stats:

  • There are now over 270 million active daily Android users in China
  • This reflects a 13% overall growth in Q3 2013, as compared to a 55% growth rate in the same quarter a  year ago
  • Most Android device sales (52%) come from users upgrading to new Android phones; 48% are users purchasing a smartphone for the very first time
  • A large part of Android growth (45%) is focused in rural areas and small cities
  • Android owners spend upwards of 150 minutes a day on their smartphones (this is an increase of 26 minutes from the previous year), checking their devices an average of 53 times a day)
  • 44% of Android users in China use Wi-Fi for their access to the Internet, especially for video. 31% get their information from 2G networks, and 23% use 3G.
  • App downloads for Chinese Android device owners are growing exponentially: the average user downloaded 10.5 apps per month in Q3 2013; the previous year, it was 8.2 apps monthly
  • 15% of Android users in China install at least one new app a day vs. 11% in Q3 2012
  • 59%  use app stores to download their apps, while 13% use online app searches and 21% use their PCs to sideload apps onto their Android devices

It’s worth pointing out that Chinese smartphone data is infamously difficult to obtain, mostly because a centralized app store (such as Google Play) does not work in the Chinese market and most Android devices don’t use Google services, therefore there is very little data for Google to work with. According to Chinese Android app store Wandoujia, more than 70 percent of Android smartphones in China do not offer Google Play services, which makes this data from Baidu quite valuable.  China and SE Asia are considered by most data measurement services to be the world’s largest smartphone markets; with over one billion Android devices being activated worldwide, the numbers coming out of  both China and SE Asia are mind-boggling when compared to global usage:

From January to September 2013, consumers from Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines spent $10.8 billion on nearly 41.5 million smartphones, according to a new report from market research agency GfK Asia. Last year, they spent $7.54 billion on 25.8 million smartphones. – “Smartphone sales surge in SE Asia”, NextWeb.com

However, since the road to app publishing and app stores is quite different than what most developers are used to,  it might be prudent to target third-party app distributors (such as the afore-mentioned Wandoujia).

Lost revenue?

The lack of a centralized app store in China is potentially damaging to developer revenues simply because of lack of access:

"Reports estimate that China’s game industry brought in $9.7 billion in revenue last year across all segments, and the figure could grow to $21.7 billion by 2017. However, a latest report released by Chinese Android app store Wandoujia – which monitors trends in China’s mobile market based on its downloads — notes that foreign games, even if they are popular in China, are losing out on potential revenue by linking up with Google’s billing system. Wandoujia estimates that more than 70 percent of Android smartphones in China lack Google Play services. This has led to Chinese users being unable to make in-app purchases when playing foreign games such as Clash of Clans, which use Google’s in-app billing system." -  “Foreign games in China lose potential revenue by using Google in app billing”, The Next Web

The sheer numbers of smartphone users – especially Android users – in China are enticing for developers looking to expand into new markets.  But it’s not just a matter of “getting in there”; there are many more factors that influence a successful app in the Chinese market as a recent article from Venture Beat  points out:

  • China’s feature phone market has dropped dramatically in the past 18 months, and 90%+ of those consumers are upgrading to entry-level Android smartphones. Since the capabilities of most Chinese smartphones still trail behind their EU/US counterparts, developers should expect to re-optimize their apps to run well on them.
  • China has several hundred Android app stores, many devoted to specific kinds of apps or users, while others hawk knock-off or hacked apps. However, just around 20 of all these app stores count as major players in the overall ecosystem. 
  • Many Western developers opt to work with a third-party company with a local presence in China and focus their distribution efforts only on China’s very largest app stores. 
  • For foreign developers operating without a local partner, it can be quite frustrating to contend with monetization, let alone the Chinese government’s 30% tax hit.

In addition, while developers are used to certain app publishing/development guidelines, in China, things are very different. For example, each app must not only be localized for language, but also customized for Chinese social media products and cloud services. Between Chinese publishers and the government, developers should expect a hit of at least 30% off the top of their revenues. There are many, many rules and regulations you’ll have to follow, and each app store has their own specific guidelines. And how about getting paid? ReadWrite.com has this to say on the subject:

“In many ways, China is still a cash-based society. This makes it difficult for developers to make money through app store purchases. In a similar way, Google Play is not easily accessible in China, which hampers Android app monetization. This means you’ll need to integrate the local online payment options that are popular, such as Alipay. You’ll also want to work directly with China’s three mobile carriers—China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile—because allow in-app payments directly billed on the consumer’s carrier payment plan. About 75% of app payment in China comes through direct carrier billing. International digital payments processor Fortumo has a relationship with all three carriers, which creates a doorway for Western developers.” – “7 things developers don’t know about the China mobile market but should”, ReadWrite.com

Before you decide that it sounds like too much trouble to get an app into the Chinese market, consider these recent stats from App Annie:

  • According to Niko Partners’ 2013 Chinese Mobile Games Market Report, in 2012 there were 192 million mobile gamers in China. This year there will be 288 million. In 2014 there will be 390 million.
  • Mobile gaming is the fastest growing segment of the entire Chinese games market.
  • Even in smaller cities where not everyone owns a phone, the ratio of phones to people is more than 125%.
  • Mobile app users are spending 40% more time on their devices playing games in 2013 than they did in 2012, and they visit their favorite games 41% more often than in 2012
  • The official App Store is the only legitimate point of entry for iOS games, but for Android there are so many options that it is difficult to know where to turn.

Have you made the move to the Chinese app market? What was your experience? Please share your knowledge here in the comments.

Intel, Latest Technology

Intel Extreme Masters Singapore 2013

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We are here in Singapore as part of the Sitex consumer electronics show for the next stop on the Intel Extreme Masters world tour. This tournament stop will feature the top professional StarCraft II and League of Legends players from South East Asia and Korea competing for cash prizes totaling $75,000. As an added bonus we are giving amateur players the opportunity to compete in a special League of Legends tournament where the amateur players have a shot at taking home $20,000 in prize money, not a bad pay day for both professionals and amateurs.

With both League of Legends and StarCraft II tournaments I’m so used to watching the professional players that I have come to expect flawless strategy and execution during matches so watching an amateur tournament was a lot of fun and brought a number of “what the heck were they thinking” moments. As with all of our tournaments we have live in-game broadcasters calling the action for the local audience as well as those watching the live video stream going out to the web. Now it was these broadcasters that added most of the entertainment value to the amateur matches. These guys are so used to announcing pro matches they were constantly being surprised by the game play and strategies, or in most cases lack of strategies. At any rate listening to them trying to keep up with the action was extremely entertaining and I’m sure a lot of fun for them as well.

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As it is with every Intel Extreme Masters we have our Customer Experience Zone up and running with lots of games to play as well as the latest and greatest Intel inspired 2-in-1, All-in-One and mobile devices for our guests to experience. We also have our daily ShootMania tournament and iRacing.com fastest lap competition where the winners each day receive a Core i7 processor.

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So far the event is getting off to a great start and we have a number of exciting things happening over the next two days so check back for the latest info. You can watch all the matches live or on demand at the Intel Extreme Masters website as well as check out photos of the event at our Intel Extreme Masters Flickr page.

Don is a Sr. Technical Marketing Engineer in Intel’s Corporate Demos Group supporting various Intel events from executive keynotes to trades shows. His latest gig is with the Intel Extreme Masters Gaming Series where he provides general technical support as well as managing the iRacing Intel GP Series. Don’s an avid gamer, mostly first person shooters, his real passion is on-line racing with iRacing.com which is the closest thing to driving a real race car as you’re going get. Don is also a skier, photographer and avid motorcyclist, recently making a trek from his home in San Jose, CA to the Arctic Circle, and back.
Intel, Latest Technology

Intel Brussels welcomes a new blogger

Hi ! My name is Julian Lageard and I’ve been working on EU environmental regulation for the past couple of decades. Europe can be proud of what it has achieved by setting the global bar from a competitiveness standpoint on laws such as the RoHS2 Directive (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) which bans the use of lead in electronics. Similar legislation has been or is being introduced in 40 countries outside the EEA, the latest being the Eur Asian Customs Union (Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan). However, whilst everyone applauds the goals of the relatively young chemicals regime REACH, we need to build more predictability and legal certainty into the system in order to attract significant new investment into Europe and before REACH is fit for purpose to proliferate out of the EU into other jurisdictions.

Intel, Latest Technology

Dawn of the Invisible Robot

Rooted in science fiction and taking hold in science fact, there has always been a fascination in the tech industry around robots. What’s exciting today is that the Internet of Things is adding a new layer to robotics through low-power, compute and connectivity. From wearable safety devices in baby clothes to industrial automation and preventative maintenance in jet engines, it’s the very small robots connected to each other and the cloud that is having the broadest impact. Today we welcome Matt Kwong to the blog with a fascinating and well-researched look at robotics in the Internet of Things. Matt is a freelance journalist living between Toronto and Atlanta who writes about technology, science, Canada and the South. See the abstract below and read the full article here. Thank you Matt. ~Valerie Scarsellato, Marketing Specialist

Dawn of the Invisible Robot: Miniscule machines with big-data capabilities at the heart of the smart tech revolution

Abstract: Today’s robots and the components within them are getting increasingly smaller and ever more invisible in products all around us. In the smart home, mobile apps control tiny computers in the thermostat, appliances and security systems. The Internet of Things — made up of billions of connected devices — is allowing machines to “discover the Internet” and promising to change the realm of machines at home, in smart cities, and on the factory floor. Companies are starting to embrace the digitalization of operations and are investing significant sums of money in smart systems that perform “predictive maintenance” — a way to detect when a machine is reaching the point of failure. Traceable merchandise with RFID tags allow beverage and pharmaceutical industries to better search for and isolate contaminations with unit-level verification. Traceability is a tenet of PLM, or product lifecycle management, literally space-aged software that allowed NASA to virtually test-run its Mars rover and allows car companies to run crash test simulations without prototypes. Minimizing corrective measures saves money, and products can get to a manufacturing stage 30-50 percent faster. Smart technology is also going into large industrial robots making them safer and Baxter, a humanoid bot that can learn tasks visually and understand human gestures. Just as steam power set the Industrial Revolution into motion, tech analysts call this transition “Industry 4.0.” The genie is out of the bottle. Read the full article here.