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China’s App Stores: All You Need to Know

Unlike the mobile app market in the West which is dominated by Google Play and the Apple app stores, the Chinese app store ecosystem is more complicated, to put it lightly.

As such, it can be much more challenging for Western brands looking to get their app released into China’s multi-level ecosystems, and to compete with native brands. There are two primary factors contributing to this complexity: stringent government policies and the rise of local tech companies, alongside the rapid adoption of mobile technology in the region.

For iPhone users, Apple operates on a distinct version of the Apple App Store in China tailored to comply with local licensing laws. Android users in China, however, face a different scenario. With Google Play unavailable in mainland China, the Android app market is fragmented into more than 100 mobile app stores.

We’ve put together this guide to put the spotlight on the Android app market in China, offering insights and strategies to help overseas developers navigate and thrive in this intricate Chinese app store ecosystem. Read on.

What are China’s top Android app stores?

When looking for the best Android app stores in China to market your app, distribution volume is crucial. Finding the biggest Android app stores translates to reaching bigger Android audiences in China. Therefore, getting to know the sheer size of the app stores makes a great starting point if you’re looking to launch your Android app in China.

And, unsurprisingly, even though there are over 100 Android app stores available, the top 10 Android stores in China combined have about 90% market share. However, given China’s massive online user base, even niche Android app stores can have MAUs in the millions. Let’s take a look at the 10 biggest Android app stores in China:

Chinese app stores by size

What are some key things about China’s biggest Android app stores?

Before diving into China’s largest Android app stores, it’s crucial to learn about their key features and consider other critical factors before launching your app. Choosing the best Chinese app store for your app involves more than just assessing distribution volumes. Finding with an app store that resonates with your company goals is essential for success in such a competitive market.

To help you make an informed decision, we’ve compiled a comprehensive overview of the top 10 Chinese app stores. This includes insights into what each platform offers, the benefits of partnering with them, and what to expect when you launch your app:

Top Chinese app stores

What are some predictions for China’s Android market in 2024 and beyond?

Navigating the complex Chinese app store ecosystem can be challenging for those venturing without a local partner. While it is crucial to understand the current state, it is equally important to anticipate where the market is headed.

As we look towards 2024 and beyond, several key trends are emerging that will shape the future of the Chinese app store landscape. We spoke with our Android expert Stephanie Wang to get her take on the the most important trends to look for in the future:

  1. China’s Android population will continue to grow. More than 80% of China’s mobile consumers are on Android and that number will likely be uncontested for the foreseeable future. This will make Android a solid and valuable platform in China for both global and domestic developers.
  2. Android data security and privacy practices will be stronger. The increased scrutiny from Chinese regulatory bodies will result in better data security and data privacy practices. Android developers who will be able to protect user data could see significant gains in the near future. All Chinese user data will only be stored in China, leading to developers building or using data servers located in mainland China.
  3. Android users will become more valuable. The percentage of paying Android users is forecasted to continue an upward trend. At the same time, Android users will gradually navigate towards better product experiences, so Android developers who build quality apps and features should see significant growth in the future.
  4. Pay attention to HarmonyOS. Huawei’s new operating system called HarmonyOS could have a significant impact on the restructuring of China’s Android app stores. While it might not compete with Google’s native Android operating system in the short term, HarmonyOS could become a decent option in a few years but it’s difficult to say at the moment.

Find the Right Chinese App Store with Nativex

As the only China-based agency equipped to offer acquisition, monetization, and creative services at scale and across multiple verticals, we believe that our revamped XploreChina initiative will help you thanks to our wide range of customized solutions. If you’re looking to make your way into China’s massive mobile market, get in touch with the Nativex team today.

For more Chinese app marketing tips, read up on our mobile marketing guide in China. Also, ASO in China is having a moment, and KOL marketing is on the rise. Read up on our blog to learn more.