Although WP7 phones have never been formally been launched in China, it doesn’t mean there’s none of them in the Central Kingdom. Like every other kind of device blocked outside China by myriad laws and regulations, there always are smuggled units in the wild.
Where there’s a market, there’s always supply. Many months back, Chinese apps were already popping up occasionally on the Marketplace, mostly done by big local IT companies who have branch in the US (thus gaining access to App Hub registration). The Chinese app populaton has beefed up quite a bit since October, when Microsoft opened up App Hub to Chinese developers. So far we have:
- Baidu, the search engine that rules over 70% of Chinese market, has released its mobile browser on WP7, in Chinese and English.
- Tencent, master of China’s hugest IM service “QQ”, has released QQ clients for WP7 several months ago.
- Sina, owner of the biggest microblog in China where Twitter is sadly blocked, has made a quite OK official microblogging client for WP7.
- Youku, which could safely be called “China’s Youtube” because China doesn’t have access to Youtube, has released official client for WP7.
- Jiepang, a popular LBS service, has made WP7 official client. People here seldom use Foursquare.
- Other things, like Baidu’s online video sharing site (Hulu-ish) client, Tencent’s web browser, Tencent’s music streaming (Spotify-ish) service, Tencent’s Hulu-clone… You might be wondering why so many things from Baidu and Tencent. Truth is that China’s internet is basically ruled by three companies: Baidu, Tencent, and Alibaba. Getting support from two of the tree kings is definitely a good sign.
- Since Microsoft opened up App Hub registration to Chinese developers, Chinese apps have been popping up in the Marketplace at a steady speed of about 0.5 – 1 app per day on average.
Just during the last weekend, 360buy, a leading B2C e-commerce website in China (imagine an Amazon.com, only in 100% Chinese) just released its official client for WP7. Honestly the app was made astonishingly crappy, with a barcode scanner module that, in this Mango era, still requires user to take a static snapshot of a code so it could analyze the *picture*. But anyway, it shows some more support from Chinese mainstream IT companies.
Things are speeding up slowly, but definitely going positive. As one of the early Android adopters in China, I think WP7 is doing remarkably better than Android did in its infancy.