China’s tech giants have been piling into the app store space like a rugby team tackling a wobbling ball. Companies like Tencent, Alibaba / Taobao, Baidu (NSDQ: BIDU) competing against more traditional players like China Mobile and the handset makers to capture some of the country’s huge mobile audience with their mobile content offerings. It comes as no surprise, then, that other app players are entering the game, too: the latest is Mobile Roadie, the self-service app creation platform.
Mobile Roadie will be entering China in partnership with mobile agency FabriQate, and the aim is to grow the creation of Chinese-language iPhone and Android apps. China Mobile and China Unicom are the first two operators to sign on as recipients of that content.
The news follows a second Asia announcement from the company: Mobile Roadie has also entered a JV is South Korea with DSFB Kollective, and the news that app downloads on the Mobile Roadie platform have passed the 10-million mark since launching in March 2009 — and it now claims it’s the world’s largest self-service app platform.
The JV, called Q Mobao, will be focused not only on creating more homegrown Chinese apps, but will also be a way for developers from outside of China to port their apps into that market. One of the first apps to debut via the service will be a Chinese-language official Madonna app. That will include access to music tracks, photos, videos and content sharing options via the Chinese social networks Sina (NSDQ: SINA) Weibo, Renren and Jiepang.
Q Mobao is, ultimately, just an app creation platform: at the end of the day, its success will depend on how many developers use it to develop apps, and there will always be multiple ways of doing that.
But there is a good incentive in using Q Mobao: access to China Mobile and China Unicom customers. Together, the two operators account for more than 900 million mobile users in the country. And for their part, they want to drive more apps to their own established stores to attract more subscribers to their own smartphone services.
What’s not clear is whether the platform will extend to cover other OSs and/or “forked” versions of Android, such as the one that has been developed by Baidu to develop its own app store, Baidu Yi. Mobile Roadie at the end of last year made a push to start offering development services for RIM’s BlackBerry OS but discontinued that last June after meeting some challenges on the platform, including integration with BlackBerry’s Enterprise Server.
With the expansion to Asia, Mobile Roadie now has operations in the U.S., UK, France, Spain, Australia, Japan, Italy, Germany, Brazil and Turkey — as well as Korea and China — and developers can now use the platform to offer apps in 16 languages.