Baidu acquired 91 Wireless with USD 1.9 billion, and Qihoo 360’s Leidian search which targets mobile users launched on July 18, merely two days after Baidu’s new acquisition. Besides, Wandoujia (known as SnapPea overseas) and AppChina also laid emphasis on app search.
Chinese App Search is Maturing
Baidu CEO Robin Li said on July 25, Baidu’s main strategies were mobile search, mobile app distribution, LBS ( Location Based Service ) and mobile video. Baidu’s acquisition of 91 Wireless, the biggest in China internet industry for 19 years, showed its resolution in entering mobile search market.
Baidu mobile search hasn’t found a good business model for a long time. Because mobile screen size is limited, mobile advertising revenue is too small to sustain. Although Baidu occupied the biggest market share on mobile search, the output/input was quite small. Now, a good business model is presented to Baidu, which is to use mobile search to distribute apps.
However, Qihoo 360’s Leidian search tries to compete with Baidu. Leidian Search is a combination of search and app store, and it allows users to download from PC to install on mobile. It offers users a platform to search for apps,games, ebooks, music, wallpaper and ringtones. The resource comes from 360 mobile app store, Wandoujia and an online music website, duomi.
Wandoujia and AppChina both intend on developing mobile app search. The app search market is maturing and competition would get more and more intense.
Why App Search Comes Late
Mobile App Store has developed for years, why does internet giants begin app search until now?
“Search always comes later than other business models, ” said by Sougou CEO Wang Xiaochuan, “If other business models are not mature and cannot make money, neither will search.” This explains why internet giants didn’t start app search in the past few years.
Mobile app search report released by Baidu in March showed the number of apps was about 500 thousand, close to the number of websites in 2004. As for mobile search, it is matured in comparison with web search. It also found out mobile app YoY growth rate was 465% in 2013, mobile search needs was growing. However, companies which had mastered mobile search techniques were rare, and lack of qualified technicians also limited its development.
In conclusion, mobile app search market is promising.
App Store Value is Decreasing
In contrast to app search promising future, app store value is decreasing. Lots of app stores emerged since Apple Store became a hit in China.
First, although the number of apps is growing, spammy apps also increase fast. Two thirds of total Apple Store apps are spam, as much as 579 thousand.
Second, most users never use an app after download it. Accordint to a report from Baidu, average “Native App” number increased 5, but average daily app using number decreased 0.9 in Q1 2013. The time spent on frequently used apps occupied 85% in Q1 2013.
App store value’s decrease doesn’t mean users needs are statisfied. The fact is, users always cannot find the app they want in the store. App search is yet to be developed.