Ovi dominates China apps market

Every time Nokia watchers get downhearted at yet another setback in the US, something happens to remind us that the company's real opportunities lie elsewhere, notably in the emerging markets.
 
The polarizing regional contrast in Nokia's fortunes could not have been highlighted more brightly than it was this week - the cancellation of the X7 launch with AT&T, which could have been a US turning point, followed by the news that in China, its Ovi Store has a 65% market share, almost seven times that of Apple’s App Store.
 
The ubiquity of Nokia handsets in China, and the huge efforts it has put into regional content and into ease of use for first-time phone owners, all explain the results. However, the vendor’s lead may well come under pressure as 3G smartphones become more common.
 
For now, though, Ovi Store beats even the highly localized China Mobile MMarket storefront, according to surveys by China's IResearch.
 
The operator's store is accessed by almost 58% of mobile subscribers. It spans multiple operating systems and also some feature phones.
 
Despite the heavy promotion of Android handsets by China’s three leading carriers - and of the iPhone by China Unicom - Android Market and App Store are so far making little impact, with shares of 13.7% and 9.4% respectively.
 
The low penetration is largely due to the failure of Google, and in particular Apple, to pay much attention to local Chinese apps, although Google said late last year that expansion in China would be a priority for its mobile strategy in 2011.
 
Microsoft Windows Marketplace came between the two with just over 11% penetration, and Sony Ericsson's PlayNow portal clocked up 7.4%.
 
Surprisingly, given the high market share of Samsung phones in China, its own store has only a  4.2% share, though it has made limited efforts to develop an integrated apps experience outside of Korea and Europe to date.
 
Motorola, another big handset presence, was just ahead on 4.7%.
 
China Unicom's Wostore had only 6.5% but it very new, while the also-rans, behind Samsung, were LG, RIM and Palm.
 

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