Android users in China are becoming increasing avid consumers of mobile video, according to a new report from Wandoujia, one of China’s largest third-party Android app stores with over 200 million users.
This underscores the importance of online video for Internet companies as consumers’ viewing habits shift to online content. In China, there have been several high profile mergers and acquisitions in the online video space within the last 18 months. In 2012, Youku-Tudou created what was then the country’s largest online video platform until Baidu took that title by merging its online video service, iQiyi, with PPS, which it purchased earlier this year for $370 million. In recent weeks, rumors have emerged that Alibaba is negotiating the purchase of PPTV, though the video sharing site has repeatedly denied the rumors.
Though many mobile video apps in China focus on providing professionally produced content, including TV shows, Youku-Tudou has sought to set itself apart from competitors by focusing on user-generated content. Its strategy appears to be working, according to Wandoujia’s data. In July, Tudou’s app scored 276,000 downloads in the store, an increase of 163% from the month before. Xunlei Kankan, which provides high-definition movie downloads, was the second fastest growing mobile video app with a 126% increase in downloads over the past month. Tudou and Xunlei Kankan were numbers four and five, respectively, on Wandoujia’s list of the top five fastest growing apps in its store in July.
Wandoujia says one factor driving the growth of mobile video is the increase in the popularity of phablets, or smartphones with screens that are five-inches wide or more, as well as better battery life for Android devices and increased availability of Wi-Fi. In Dongguan, an industrial city in the Pearl River Delta, manufacturers attract workers by offering speedy Wi-Fi connections in factory dorms.
“One of the things we’ve seen is that factories compete for workers by workers by having Wi-Fi in dorms because mobile devices serve as their entertainment centers and with Wi-Fi they can watch shows without having to spend too much money on data plans,” says Wandoujia International Project Manager Kai Lukoff.
User engagement with mobile apps has increased dramatically over the last 18 months. According to the “China Mobile Internet 2012 Review” by Umeng, the largest mobile app analytics platform in China, the average total time a mobile user spent daily on video apps grew 259% from 9 minutes to 31 minutes in 2012. There was a 24% in increase in app usage frequency rates. This was the highest growth by far among app categories.
As the mobile video industry continues to grow, Wandoujia believes it will become more vertically integrated, with apps striving to compete by offering specific services targeted to different user demographics. In anticipation of an increasingly fragmented video app marketplace, Wandoujia has been improving its Video Search, which it launched in 2010. The tool allows users to look for videos across different apps that are already on their Android devices or that can be downloaded from Wandoujia.
“There is competition between apps like Qiyi and Youku-Tudou, so can’t find all of the content you want in a single app. You have to download different apps, so we’ve provide a search engine that works across different apps and will launch an app for you if you already have it installed,” says Wandoujia CEO Wang Junyu.