How to monetize your app destined for China


In our standard service, we demand that the app you submit must be a Free app. We have a number of reasons for doing this.

  1. Avoid the complications/work to manage a dozen or more app stores for payments
  2. If the app is free, piracy does not matter. In fact, it is good for your business to get the app distributed more widely.

However, if the app is free to download, what options do you have left to monetize? Appflood have posted an article on 40 strategies to monetize and we think the methods below are suitable for China, those in bold are most commonly used.

  1. In-app purchases
  2. Partnerships
  3. Subscriptions
  4. Advertising
  5. Merchandising - Chinese are not fond of paying for software but they will certainly pay for physical items
  6. Sell your source code
  7. License your app - If you app appeal to Chinese companies/OEM, they mgiht be interested to license/customize it for their needs

According to Distmo's 2014 February publicaton - How the Most Successful Apps Monetize Globally, you can see 94% of IOS app in China are Free app with in-app purchase and only 4% are paid with without in-app purchase. 

We are unable to find similar data on Android but in Distmo's 2014 January publication - Asia: The Leading App Market in the World, you can see that Wandoujia’s Business model - "All of the games are freemium titles, so all revenue is from in-app purchases. As in PC internet gaming, this model is completely dominant in China. In PC gaming, at first Western companies thought that China’s market would never amount to anything because all games were pirated. But Chinese companies found that a model borrowed from Korea, free games with in-app purchases, did work. China has subsequently become the world’s largest PC gaming market, fueling the rise of giants like Tencent, Netease, Sohu, Shanda, and others. The same dynamics are now at play in mobile games." If you don't know, Wandoujia has 14.8% marketshare in China.