Android is the most popular mobile operating system in China, but everything else associated with Google is liable to be blocked by the government—and that includes the Google Play store. That means Android users had to seek out other ways to download apps, and former Googler Junyu Wang created Wandoujia to fill the vacuum: Last year his platform reached more than 450 million users, who have downloaded 1.6 billion apps to date.
Wandoujia isn’t alone; it has hundreds of app-store competitors in China. But it has outflanked them all by expanding to become a multimedia marketplace designed for Chinese needs. Smartphone owners in China crave music and video, but many are cost-conscious and can’t afford to stream content all day long. So the company developed a media search engine: Users use Wandoujia on a wifi-connected desktop computer to search for, say, a particular video across many video platforms. When Wandoujia finds it, it downloads the file via Wi-Fi or syncs with a desktop. Wandoujia can also help users compress videos they already own. Then a user downloads the file, syncs their computer with their Android phone, and has the video without using much mobile data.
Like American consumers, Chinese consumers are most likely to download free apps. So rather than seek a split of app sales revenue, Wandoujia charges developers for prominent promotion in the store—and then splits in-app purchase revenue. Wandoujia doesn’t release its revenue figures, but this model has won the confidence of international investors that include Japan’s SoftBank and Goldman Sachs.
[Photo: courtesy of Wandoujia]
A version of this article appeared in the March 2015 issue of Fast Company magazine.