Apple’s Next Move and Why iPhone Developers Should Learn Mandarin

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Have you heard the rumors about the new iPhone 5c? Where the ‘C’ supposedly stands for cheap, okay maybe not, they say it probably stands for the various color options. Then again, these are rumors, so it could stand for checkmate mobile industry, now your move. On the heels of these rumors comes another announcement that Tim Cook met with the head of China Mobile which is like the Verizon of China. Apple has already been selling iPhones / iPads in China and the numbers are far from paltry, however this deal could create a massive explosion in sales.

China Mobile is the largest mobile telecom provider with a subscriber base of more than 740 million. Less than one fifth of their subscribers have 3G which is about 148 million subscribers eligible to buy an iPhone. With a cheaper iPhone and a deal with China Mobile, Apple could solely sell to China and still hit their revenue numbers. There are already thousands of Chinese apps in the app store but millions of new iPhone users means more users hungry for apps. If you have a successful app then you might consider providing it in Mandarin or better yet contact some ex-pats living in China and ask them what kind of apps they think would be viable.

Looking at the top 100 apps in the Chinese app store games seems to dominate the rankings. But there’s still room for the likes of a Chinese version of apps like Instagram, SnapChat, Vine, FlipBoard, LetterPress. It’s a market ripe with opportunities and with a little creativity you could come out on top. That said, I would like to leave you with a little Chinese proverb: “Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still.”

Amit Bijlani

Amit teaches iOS Development at Treehouse. He has over 14 years of experience creating software solutions on the web and mobile. In his spare time he's either doing yoga, hiking or trying to find some other challenging physical activity. Find him on twitter: @paradoxed

Comments

7 comments on “Apple’s Next Move and Why iPhone Developers Should Learn Mandarin

  1. I’m not sure about letterpress, but there is Chinese equivalents of all the other apps listed. Not to say there isn’t room to grow (there is plenty!) but not quite sure these are the best examples.

    • I’d have to agree with Jacob here – those apps are not the best examples, and with the article where it recommends contacting people familiar with the market (probably not necessarily expats) to get some insights. Wechat is probably one of the greatest inventions China’s put out in hundreds of years and really is an amazing app, knocking the socks off apps like whatsapp and instagram.

  2. This article fails to take into consideration the ban that the chinese government had on gaming consoles up until the past couple of years. So as of just recently the only way to play games was with a computer OR cell phone, as importation of ps1,2 xbox, ect was banned….(even though they produced them). That is why games are the top “apps” on chinese ratings. once you remove those you find similar apps to what you would see in the top usa market.

  3. I don’t know. This article is too short and without enough facts or statistics to convince me of anything.

  4. You can still make a lot of money focusing on the English speaking market. Sure, you can make more if you also work on the Chinese, Spanish, Hindu, and English speaking market (combined), but there are still hundreds of millions of people who speak English.