The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology recently published a statement saying that the number of mobile subscribers within Mainland China has reached over one billion. During the past three months, the Chinese mobile market has gained more than 43 million new customers; the total number of subscribers is now over 1,030,052,000.
More Subscribers, More Connections
The three major state-owned players, China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, are competing in a tough but huge market which has seen a year on year increase, from the first quarter of 2011 to the first of 2012, of 14.8% putting the total business value at more than 419 billion RMB (65.7 US$ Billion) this quarter.
They are now heading their way to upgrade their networks to allow customers to enjoy the benefit of 3G speed, unlike China Unicom which, few weeks ago, has recently announced the deployment of their HSPA+ 3G network to its customers. The HSPA+ technology will allow users to enjoy a 21 Mbps speed link directly to their smartphone, it means that they will get an even higher speed compare to the average DSL speed of 1.8 Mbps at home.
China mobile has 673 million users whom 62 million are 3G subscribers, China Unicom has 213 million users whom 52 million are 3G subscribers and China Telecom has 139 million subscribers whom 46 million are 3G subscribers. The total of 3G subscribers is now up to 160 million which is more than half the size of the USA population.
Smartphones Versus Old Phones
As the sales of smartphones are increasing each month and with the emergence of cheap android based smartphones released by Netease, Samsung and Baidu (read our news about Baidu's new phones), we can expect that the number of 3G subscribers will keep growing strongly in the upcoming months. Moreover, we wouldn’t be surprised if the number of visitors for a given website, especially for the social media ones, coming from smartphones exceed the number of computer based ones.
This will reinforce the problem of accessibility for mobile users visiting non-adapted website and stress the importance of new web-technology like responsive design and adapted languages such as HTML5.
China Mobile Population is expected to hit 1 billion in the coming days.
The total number of mobile subscribers reached 999.7 million in February (+1.23%), according to the statistics provided by the three national telecommunications operators.
The world’s largest mobile carrier China Mobile confirmed to have 661 million subscribers, including 57 million 3G subscribers. Note that it doesn’t offer any iPhone yet.
Mobile subscribers at China Unicom, the No.2 carrier in the country, reached 206 million (46 million for 3G subscribers).
China Telecom mobile subscribers were 132 million, including 41 million 3G users.
Here are the main reasons that could explain these figures:
- The size of the Chinese market: over 1.33 billion people were living in the country in 2011.
- The development of high-bandwidth mobile networks.
- The enrichment of China's population.
- The interest of Chinese for smartphones.
According to the latest figures from CNNIC in 2011, there were over 350 million people who accessed the Internet through their mobile phone in 2011 compared to the overall China Internet population.
Mobile apps available in Apple App Store and Android Market are now clearly displayed in the search results pages in Google.
Those applications appear with their name, logo, users’ mark, and price. For instance, if I search “angry birds” on Google.com, above is how the search results look like.
You can also specifically search mobile apps by clicking the new category filter named “applications” that only displays mobile applications in the SERPs.
If you don’t see “applications”, you may need to click “more” on the left panel in the search options.
This tool enables you to easily find many applications related to your search.
For example, if you want to “learn Chinese”, you can directly access dozens of mobile apps in both Android Market and Apple App Store by simply filtering the “applications” section, as you can see below:
The service is currently available on Google.com only.
If you want to know how to optimize your mobile application for search engines, read our 10 SEO tips for mobile apps.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has traditionally been applied to websites only, and mobile websites in a certain measure. However, talking about SEO for mobile apps is more seldom. Yet, having your mobile application visible online is actually crucial for your success.
What is SEO for Apps?
Application marketplaces work similarly to simple search engines that only search a select inventory of mobile apps. Therefore all you know from SEO can be used when submitting an app.
When you think of SEO for mobile apps, keep in mind that you can actually talk about two things:
- Optimize your app rankings within mobile application marketplaces: key ranking factors include number of downloads, reviews, title, keywords, etc.
- Optimize your app rankings within search engines results pages (SERPs): traditional SEO ranking factors apply to app's download page.
How to Optimize your App?
If your end goal is to increase downloads and installs of your app, you have to optimize it to make it more visible in app stores and SERPs.
Here are 10 SEO tips to optimize your app in both mobile marketplaces and SERPs:
1. Define Target Audience Keywords
As for traditional SEO, you first have to define and understand your target market: who would be interested in downloading and using your app?
Following that, you must know what words and terms your audience search. You can use free SEO tools to see what keywords people use according to specific filters such as country, language, etc., and also get additional suggestions.
Of course, when you target a specific audience, it doesn’t exclude other users to find and use your app, you’re just more likely to attract the users who are most valuable to you.
2. Optimize App name
Having a good name for your App has positive impacts in terms of SEO, both in search engines and mobile app marketplaces.
When I say a good name, I mean you should consider having relevant keywords in your app’s name that can include your brand name, but more importantly additional keywords that describe the app, and will be added to your keywords tag (see below).
Remember you have to think about character limits and ensure you follow the guidelines for each application store, especially if you use brand names (you may be requested to show licenses before your app can be approved).
3. Optimize App URL
As in “traditional” SEO, the URL of the app is also a ranking factor. You must ensure that the URL of your app contains your keywords.
Note that the name of your app will automatically be used as your file name in the URL for your application.
If you don’t want to have an SEO-unfriendly auto-generated URL with numeric APP ID, it clearly means you should be sure to have the keywords you want in your file name (and avoid including special characters).
4. Create Keyword Tag
After downloads, reviews, and name, keywords play an important role in promoting your app in Android Market and Apple App Store.
For instance, in the Apple App Store, you should optimize all your keywords for 100 characters maximum, including spaces. You can separate your keywords with commas only.
Keep in mind that Apple App Store understands keywords one-at-a-time (rather than in phrases) unlike search engines. Therefore don’t forget to include plurals and synonyms to rank for those keywords.
I’d recommend you to think about what people who don’t know your application may search if they're interested in an app like yours.
And contrary to what you may read, spamming the keyword tag with un-related keywords or your competitor’s name won’t help you rank higher, and may even result in having your app rejected.
5. Optimize App Description
When you write your app description, think about it in terms of potential users just scanning it. Most people won’t read your app description, especially if it’s free, so the vital information must be clearly highlighted.
What should you write in your app description? Share insight on what makes your app unique, without going overboard on features and specs. Focus on the main values your app offers.
Pay strong attention to how the text is formatted in the app, notably where line breaks since most of users will read your app description from their mobile phone.
For instance, in the Apple app store, each line can contain 120 characters, and you only get three lines above the fold (before you have to click “more”), so that is a maximum of 360 characters including spaces.
A great tip is also to include user reviews directly in your app’s description, especially if your app doesn’t have many reviews in the store yet. This will encourage people to download your app, as well as add pertinent keywords in your download’s page, and therefore help you rank in search engines.
6. Choose Right App Category
Choosing the right category to submit your application to is actually crucial.
Your app can be listed in multiple categories but you have to find the ones that both reach your target audience and have the least competition, notably in terms of apps and keyword search rankings.
MobClix is a very useful tool that can help you determine the level of competition between different categories of Apple apps.
For example, you can divide the number of apps by free and paid, and then even sub-divide within the different categories.
7. Display Screenshots and Icons
Don’t neglect your images as they may have a great influence on conversion for apps. Your application should display great images, especially good quality icons, as well as visual screenshots.
Pay attention to quality of images, as well as sizes that may differ from one mobile marketplace to another. Besides, remember that large landscape images may be cropped.
8. Add Video Trailer
Another great feature of Android Market is video trailers that enable you to showcase your app.
You simply need to add the URL of your video on YouTube. As text description, keep it short and highlight the top features of your app.
Video trailers clearly increase downloads and conversions for apps.
9. Get User Reviews
User reviews are taken into account by mobile marketplaces to rank your app. Of course, the more positive you have, the better.
If your app is new and doesn’t have many reviews, you can invite your users to leave positive feedbacks. However, make sure they like as reviews don’t expire.
In addition, and as social media, interaction with the community is something vital. Try to spot top influencers among your users and interact directly with them. That is how you’ll satisfy them and get more and more users.
10. Promote App on Social Networks
Anything that is done online to promote your app is good for your SEO. From websites’ reviews to social networks, strive to promote your application online.
Use all your knowledge about SEO to optimize your pages to drive traffic to your app’s page.
For instance, the Android Market allows visitors mark apps as +1 and recommend them with their followers on Twitter. Those are simple but great ways to lead visitors to your app’s download page.
Feel free to share your other SEO tips for mobile apps!
China’s top search engine company Baidu, which recently launched a new homepage with modules and unveiled its new mobile software platform compatible with Android Baidu Yi, decided to partner with the US company Dell.
Dell to launch smartphone based on Baidu OS in China
Dell will not be the only mobile phone and tablet manufacturer Baidu is going to work with. These manufacturers will develop handsets, install Baidu Yi platform to some of their products, and then all actors will share the revenue. This partnership will concern the Chinese market only.
Dell has already worked in cooperation with Chinese companies, notably ZTE, regarding the production of its Android smartphones. At the same time, Baidu already partnered with a US firm, namely Microsoft Bing, about its search results in English.
Mobile and tablet market in China
Many companies are trying to increase their presence in the Chinese mobile market. With about 930 million mobile users according to China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, China’s market size is huge.
In addition, China is becoming one of the fastest growing tablet markets in the world. According to Analysis International. The volume of sales in China is expected to go over 4.5 million units in 2011, representing more than 500% growth in one year.
Baidu uses Android to grow
The Baidu software platform will be preinstalled on compatible mobile phones and allow users to directly access Baidu services, such as the “click & search” feature: while reading an e-book on a smartphone, a user can click on a word in the book to perform a Baidu web search for it.
Baidu announced that the platform will be available on Android mobile phones first, but it is expected to be compatible with other OS in the future too. What happened to Symbian ? Last year, Baidu and Symbian teamed up on mobile box computing but Baidu appears to see more potential into Android.
Baidu’s strategy consists of expanding its mobile service offerings as well as trying to attract more customers, especially Android phone users.
What is interesting here is that Baidu is trying to take advantage of Android's popularity. It is actually a way to compete more fiercely with Google while using its competitor's mobile OS.
Of course, this platform can be seen as a first step before Baidu releases its own mobile OS. Baidu never hid its intentions to develop its own mobile OS to compete with Android.
The release date of Baidu Yi was not publicly announced, nor the names of devices on which the platform will be pre-installed.
Baidu leads China’s search market
According to Beijing-based research firm Analysys International, Baidu has a 75.9% share of revenue in China's online-search market in Q2 2011 while Google’s share is 18.9%. In Q1, Baidu had 75.8% of the market and Google 19.2%.
Given the huge size of the market (more than 485 million Internet users in China as of June 2011), many search companies strives to get a slice of the cake.
In addition to Baidu and Google (and Baigoogledu that enables users to perform a web search on both search engines), other major competitors include Sogou, Soso and Bing (see the list of main search engines in China).
Easou leads the Chinese mobile search market
As you know, Baidu and Google largely dominate China's online search market. However, when it comes to mobile search, Easou leads.
Easou was founded in Shenzhen in 2005 by Wang Xi as the first mobile search engine company in China. It became the biggest player of the mobile search industry.
Easou & mobile search expected to boom
Mobile search engines currently account for only a fraction of total mobile applications. However, the growth rate is expected to reach 60% in 2011 according to the market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC).
Easou currently has more than 160 million users. Its sales revenue was 100 million yuan (approximately $15 million) in 2010 and the company expects to reach 1 billion yuan in 2012.
Easou's success to be confirmed
The promotion strategy used by Easou is unlike most other IT companies. They chose to focus on the countryside rather than large cities, as Chairman Mao Zedong's theory.
SMEs account for about 80% of Easou's business and have been the key drivers of the growth. Indeed, Easou allows them to promote their products nationwide on the mobile search engine rather than spending millions of yuan on TV advertisements.
Easou has a market penetration of more than 40 cities in China, and the company is expected to enter large cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou in 2011
Chinese can now buy the iPhone 4 in Apple Stores located in Beijing and Shanghai and at China's mobile operator Unicom retail stores.
The smartphone is already in shortage in most of stores. Nothing surprising though since more than 500,000 Chinese had pre-ordered the iPhone 4 before its release.
The demand is still very strong but Apple may have learnt from the mistakes of the iPhone 3GS: only 5,000 units were sold during its release latest year.
Today, among the 420 million Chinese connected online, 277 million are accessing the Internet through their mobile phone.
Google introduced AdWords location extensions that let advertisers put their businesses' location and phone number on a Google map ad for mobile websites and applications. The company is looking to target ads to smartphone users who often use Google Maps to get directions and find businesses.
Ads on Google Maps with location extensions
Google Maps users will see such ads surface as banner text ads with a business icon that expands to show the business location on a Google map along with the ad creative, click-to-call phone number and directions.
Click-to-call ads let advertisers add local business numbers alongside their destination URLs in mobile search ads. When smartphone users search for a local business from their mobile phone (such as Apple's iPhone and Android phones) and see ads that have these numbers, they may simply click the number to call the business.
While one may think that a Google ad that leverages user location would leverage the GPS capabilities of handsets as well as Google's location servers, Google will merely use IP addresses to determine users' locations.
Location extensions ads have greater ROIs
Business advertisers are actually not charged when users click to expand the map or get directions, advertisers are only charged when a user clicks to call the business or clicks to visit its website.
Click-through rates are also up 6% when Google provides a phone number and 8% when it offers a local address with ads.
Baidu to create mobile OS similar to Android
Baidu'd like to launch its own open source mobile OS. The Beijing-based company won't actually start from scratch since it hired former Google's employees who left the US company involved in a confrontation with the Chinese government.
Search engine war goes mobile
Baidu is leading China's search engine market with a 70% market share, far ahead of Google's 24%. However, when it comes to mobile search, both companies have about 26% of the market.
The Chinese company has clearly to react if it wants to get a prominent position in the mobile search engine market. Creating its own mobile OS would help it to achieve this objective.
Moreover, Baidu is in talks with mobile handset makers that use Android about embedding a Baidu search box on their phones that are destined for the Chinese market.
Symbian leads China's mobile OS market
Android has made significant progress within the Chinese market. However, Android phones made up only 0.4% of the 7.25 million smartphones sold in China during Q4 2009 (according to technology research firm Analysys International), but they're now widely distributed by many of China’s largest wireless carriers.