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Chinese App Store Growing Amid Challenges

The Wall Street Journal reports on progress for Apple's App Store in China, noting the challenges faced by the company due to a lack of Wi-Fi on official iPhones, a large installed base of unlocked and jailbroken iPhones, and high levels of piracy. But despite reportedly slow launch sales of the officially-sanctioned iPhone, the Chinese App Store is still managing to quickly expand its small market.

The market for legitimate Chinese iPhone apps is small but surging. Mr. Shi's company estimates about $1 million worth of legitimate iPhone apps have been sold so far this year, though the market could reach $6 million by next year. By comparison, mobile advertising firm AdMob says about $200 million in apps are sold overall through Apple's store each month.

Apple also faces challenges in its payments systems, with consumers required to hold a credit card issued by a Chinese bank, a relatively uncommon notion there, in order to purchase App Store content.

The report focuses on a number of applications that have become successful in China, from locally-produced content such as news and blogging applications from news portal Sina.com to versions of common Western applications such as Quickoffice and EA's Command & Conquer.

"Localization is most important. Products should be as much in line with Chinese lifestyles as possible," says Mr. Shi, who noted Texas Hold 'Em games likely wouldn't go over well.

A slideshow of ten popular apps is also presented, ranging from games such as Need for Speed Undercover and Gold Miner 2 to more Chinese-specific applications like Autonavi (the only Chinese navigation application, and the store's top revenue producer) and Powerword 2.0 (a Chinese-English translation app).