China is an important market for Apple, and while the company now has deals like the one with China Mobile that help distribute hardware in the country, that is only half the battle. According to new reports, Apple has recently been focusing on wooing Chinese appmakers to get them to develop for iOS.
“Two years ago there was no developer support in China,” Chinese developer Woody Wan told Bloomberg in a recent interview. “There’s been a significant improvement.”
According to the report, Apple has been taking various steps to win over Chinese app developers — including beefing up developer relations by allowing new apps to be approved in the country, opening up a new office in downtown Beijing where the China App Store is located, and building new Chinese-language-specific software to benefit developers. At WWDC this week, Apple held several sessions and social gatherings for programmers visiting from China.
Despite improvements being made, Apple is still lagging when it comes to Chinese apps: with only 150,000 apps in the China App Store at the start of this year, compared to the 1 million+ available in the U.S. App Store. Nonetheless, Tim Cook has noted that revenue from the China App Store grew by triple digits in the first three months of 2014. An April report from APP analytics firm App Annie suggested that revenue for the China App Store grew by 70% in the previous quarter.
“On a scale of one to 10 in terms of importance in China, it ranks at about 11,” says Ramon Llamas, an analyst for IDC, referring to the importance of Apple focusing on the Chinese market. “Nobody buys a smartphone just for it to be a phone — the value of your device goes up with the more applications that you download on to it.”
While Japan currently outspends China, on the basis of its large number of iOS devices per capita, it won’t be long before China overtakes it to become Apple’s second bigger spender worldwide.