Wandoujia, or SnapPea, is an Android phone and content manager, not necessarily a direct competitor to 91. But it is taken as one of 91‘s competitors in terms of Android app distribution as users can search for and download apps directly on Wandoujia.

It’s one of the only batch of startups incubated by Innovation Works before the latter shifted to become a venture capital fund, and one of the few that hasn’t been acquired. As Baidu reportedly also reached out to other app distributors as well, it is speculated Wandoujia must be included (btw, Innovation Works has successfully sold Baidu two of the batch, PhotoWonder and Dianxin OS.)

Wang Junyi, co-founder of Wandoujia, wrote an article commenting on Baidu’s acquiring 91, declaring Wandoujia is going to be an independent company. At the same time he boasts that they were approached by almost all big Chinese Internet companies for potential investment or acquisition and rejected all of them. He hints that the $19 billion valuation is high for such a business — we know Baidu is worried about its expansion to the mobile and terrified by the rising threats like Qihoo.

Here let me share you some worth-mentioning points in his article.

  • “Wandoujia never positioned as an app store”, though its role has been an app distributor so far with more than 30 million daily downloads, just like every other Mobile Assistant. Only 15% of R&D employees are working on app distribution. After launching a mobile search service in 2011, the team was mainly working on its mobile app. It’s growth chart in 2012 is encouraging when a Mobile Assistant with an built-in app store had become a must for every bigger Internet company in China.
  • “Wandoujia doesn’t want to be another Hao123.”  Wang said they disappointed a lot of investors by not saying they wanted to be another Hao123. He points out that an app store, although users do visit for exploring apps, is less powerful than Hao123 on the Web where users visit it regularly for accessing content or services, while users don’t visit app stores for launching apps.
  • “We want users to explore content through Wandoujia.” He hopes Wandoujia to become the brand name users, old or young, will turn to whenever they want to listen to, read or play with anything  “in ten to twenty years”.

The last point must be the goal set by every player in the market, Baidu, Qihoo and the like. In this regard, Baidu is one of the winners on the Chinese Web. It is recognized that mobile search is different considering how users use and manage apps. But search, capable of surfacing content, will still be a dominant service in mobile Internet in terms of usage and revenue generation.

Today’s startups in China don’t seem worried about threat from Baidu who has a poor record in developing non-search products and whose market share in search started declining recently. Even if it would become a giant in app distribution with 91, it’s not likely it will, or be able to, kill smaller competitors.

Companies like Qihoo must be growing threats. Qihoo has become one of the biggest Internet companies in China in terms of user base, and well positioned in the mobile app distribution market through its mobile security app and 360 Mobile Assistant. Very recently it stealthily launched Leidian which works just the same with Wandoujia in app search and management. What’s more, it tries to block mobile users from upper streams with tools such as WiFi routers, normal-sized or USB-sized.

image credit: snappeablog.tumblr.com

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com

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  1. Thoughtful post, Tracey. Sadly, not too many Internet startups in China are able to survive as independents. But that’s our goal at Wandoujia.

    We actually just translated the full version of our CEO Junyu Wang’s post about the Baidu-91 deal: http://appindex.wandoujia.com/baidus-19-billion-acquisition-and-the-future-of-mobile-in-china

    It ends: “So to our partners: please relax, Wandoujia will remain independent for a long time to come. After Baidu’s acquisition, the competition will grow even stronger, which has us excited too. As China’s Internet Giants enter in from all four corners (hello, Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and Qihoo), we hope to establish close partnerships with those companies that, like us, have a wholehearted focus on building great products for users. We want to let those good products grow and prosper, not stand idly by as China’s mobile Internet slips into another era of ‘daddy’s boy’, where the incumbents are the only option.”

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