Hard-Core League of Chinese Android app stores

JANUARY 16, 2019

The ecosystem of Chinese Android app stores is far more complicated and dynamic than the western one. Today, we are not going to talk about all the 200 or so Android app stores in China, but only the tops, which are the prime choices of most people when they are going to download apps.

Before going to the topic, you need to know that there are two types of Android app stores in China: third-party app stores, like Tencent’s “Myapp”, “Baidu Mobile assistant” and phone manufacture’s pre-installed app stores, like the app gallery of Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, VIVO and more.

You may see from some reports that third-party app stores like Tencent and Baidu still have more than 10% of market coverage. However, these numbers might be decisiving and tricky. Why? Following are the two most important reasons: First, when users buy a smart phone, the phone manufactures already have their own app stores pre-installed on their phones so users tend to search for apps on these app stores directly, without sparing any storage for another app store. Second, even when you try to download third-party app stores, these pre-installed app stores will remind you the third-party app store your want to install is risky for your phone. And sometimes, you just can’t find third-party app stores in the app store pre-installed on your phone! For example, when you search “myapp” on Huawei Nova 2plus, you just can’t find the “myapp” in the pre-installed Huawei app store. And instead, Huawei’s own app gallery and some other apps will pop up on the firsts of the search page.

As we can see, third-party app stores are not easily accessible on Android phones. The dominance of pre-installed app stores means smartphone manufactures who sell most phones also have dominance in apps stores, which means the dominance in traffic and the dominance in monetization.

Who sell most smart phones in China? According to numerous researches and publication, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO and VIVO are the dominant smartphone brands, all of them have around 20% market share, with Huawei the champion of them. And since these four brands are so successful in China and also getting more market share around the world, they also have lots of cooperations with each other in various scenarios. Chinese call them “Hard-Core League” of smartphone sells and also the app stores and their traffic. There are also some other smartphone brands that are rising and attention-catching, like oneplus, lenovo, meizu and meitu. But the “Hard-Core League” are definitely the dominance power of the Android market in China.

Let’s have a closer look at each of the “Hard-Core League” members.


Huawei is a kind of “National brand” for lots of Chinese and it definitely has the most high-ended Chinese Android users. Quite a decent amount of business people and white collar workers in China use Huawei, especially the Mate and P serials, instead of apple. The average monthly income for Huawei users is 7,000-8,000 RMB. Besides, Huawei also has models suites middle-low ended users that costs around 1,000 RMB per phone. In the international market, Huawei is also taking Europe aggressively. According to IDC’s latest data, as provided to The Verge, shows Huawei enjoys a meteoric rise since the start of 2017 and now it has earned an impressive 24.8% Europe market share, rising above Apple, by the end of second quarter of 2018 and the number is continually growing. Last week, I saw the ad board outside Hamburg Train Station showing huge Huawei ad, which was Apple’s ads before. With growing selling and most high ended users, Huawei is definitely the backbone of the “Hard-Core League”.


Xiaomi has a quite unique fans culture in the past and now it still has some remaining effect, which make users be more loyal to the brand. Xiaomi’s users are quite diverse, ranging from quite high end to low end and with no clear emphasis. Its users’ age range is usually from 20-50. For the past a few years, Xiaomi’s domestic market was encroached by OPPO and VIVO but it is performing quite well in Indian market, listing the top 1 smartphone vender with around 30% of the Indian market share.


OPPO and VIVO were born to the same family “Bubugao” but now they are totally separated and are even competitors. The focus of OPPO is camera and short charging time, and the focus of VIVO is camera and music. Both of them pursue novelty and vigor and their target users are also younger and lower ended compared to Huawei. In the international market, OPPO and VIVO are doing extremely well in Southeast Asian countries. According to IDC, OPPO and VIVO together get a marketshare of 24.2% in 2017 and the number is growing fast. Since the user of OPPO and VIVO is younger, they might have more power in the near future on the say of monetization and technology and trend the needs of the young people better.

Hard-Core League is definitely the app store traffic core and users core you need if your app wants to go big in China.