Rich Bishop on China's Ever-changing App Marketplace

By Ryan Gandolfo, November 6, 2020

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Game Theory is a regular series where we speak with a professional with insight into China’s business and tech scene.

Living in China requires an arsenal of apps to make it through the day. If you’ve ever lost your phone for more than 24 hours, you probably realized just how reliant you are on WeChat, Meituan and DiDi, among other apps. In the PRC, there were 1.56 billion active mobile phones last year with, on average, Chinese mobile users spending 6.2 hours each day on their devices. (That’s almost two days a week glued to your phone.) And with mobile app usage on the rise in China, companies from around the world are looking to enter the market. As CEO of AppInChina, Rich Bishop leads a team that helps global brands launch in China by offering key services, including distribution and compliance. Bishop shares with That’s some of the challenges facing foreign app publishers and developments in the industry.

How did you get started working in China?
I moved to China straight after graduating from university in 2007 with the goal of setting up my own company here. I studied Chinese at Peking University for a few months and then established my first company, a grocery delivery business, in early 2008. I then founded a real estate company and later, in 2013, cofounded AppInChina. 

What are some of the challenges foreign app publishers face in the Chinese marketplace?
The largest challenge is legal compliance. China has a lot of laws and regulations that each publisher needs to comply with, and many of the necessary licenses are not possible for a foreign-owned company to obtain. 

Another key challenge is localization, which is the process of adjusting the app so that it is not only usable in China but provides a great user experience for Chinese users.

How has China’s app marketplace changed since you started AppInChina?
We started AppInChina in 2013 and the biggest change we’ve seen is the growth in laws and regulations that our clients need to comply with in order to publish their software in China. 

The Cybersecurity Law of the People’s Republic of China is the most important of these, but there are many others specific to each category of software and industry in which it operates.

What services does AppInChina provide to clients?
AppInChina provides the full range of services that app publishers need in order to maximize the success of their app in China. This includes testing, localization, legal compliance, hosting, distribution, user acquisition and monetization.

What are some of your go-to apps while living in China?
WeChat is of course the most commonly used app, since it’s the primary form of communication (both business and personal) as well as being a ‘super app’ that enables one to order food, make payments, book movie tickets and much more. 

My second most commonly used app is probably DiDi (the Chinese equivalent of Uber). It’s pretty much impossible to flag down a taxi nowadays so DiDi is essential.


Click here to visit AppinChina’s official website.

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[Cover image provided by Rich Bishop]

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