App111.com, or Apple Orchard (not official translation), offers jailbreak iOS app downloads, and other jailbreak related apps and services. Founded in 2010 and based in Beijing, the company claimed it had 40 million users with 1.5 million being daily active as of January 2013.
It charges developers 1000 – 15,000 yuan ($160 – 250) for 400 – 9000 installations. App111 also takes revenue shares from partner mobile games on its platform. The business model is pretty much the same with that of other iOS or Android app distributors in China.
App111 reportedly has been acquired by Baidu at the end of 2013. Before the acquisition, App111 only received some seed funding from Unityvc, a venture capital firm founded by a member of Baidu founding team.
The amount for acquiring App111 isn’t disclosed. The $1.85 billion Baidu spent on 91 Wireless alone is large enough an amount that tells how important app distribution is in China’s mobile Internet market. After the 91 acquisition, Android app distribution became dominated by Baidu, Qihoo, Wandoujia and Tencent that account for 38%, 28%, 15% and 12%, respectively, at the end of 2013, according to Tencent COO.
It is rumored that Tencent would invest heavily to promote its Android app store MyApp this year. But it’s not likely the whole picture of Android app distribution market will change much in the near future.
A war in iOS app distribution is brewing. Qihoo confirmed that it had invested in Kuaiyong, the iOS app download and management service which has developed the controversial TaiG jailbreak app store. TaiG announced that it would release jailbreaks on their own in the future. UC Web, the leading mobile browser and service provider, recently acquired the company behind iOS app download and management app PP Assistant.
Although it is estimated the number of iOS devices in China will continue to be lower than that of Android devices, a faster growth of iOS device sales will be boosted by China Mobile’s introduce of 4G-supported iPhones, the lower-cost iPhone 5C and so on. The sales performance of iPhone 5S, accounting for 12% of existing iOS devices in China, seems much better than that of previous models in China.