On the earnings conference call for Q2 2013 today, Zhou Hongyi, CEO of Qihoo, talked about China’s mobile game market, predicting it would be five to ten times bigger than the PC-based gaming market.  He thinks that’s because 1) people who previously didn’t play PC-based games began playing mobile games on smartphones or pads, and 2) users spend much more time playing mobile games than PC-based games.

He saw mobile gaming market grew faster than that of client games, even than that of web games (or browser games) which became explosive in the past couple of years.

It seems on PC end only complex RPGs can make good money and it’s hard to monetize casual games or other small games there. On mobile, different categories of mobile games have come up with different monetization approaches. Users are willing to spend money on small mobile games.

When asked about Baidu’s latest Light App strategy, Zhou said he didn’t see the WebApp to be prevailing in near future. Baidu’s Robin Li said the WebApp makes it easier for long-tail apps to surface in search results. Mr. Zhou doesn’t agree here saying that in one way mobile search is different from PC-based search is mobile content, including native apps and web apps, is different. That’s why Qihoo launched mobile search service Leidian to cater to the sector.

Zhou believes the long-tail is entertainment content, including games, videos, music and so on, that users would always search for helped by a search tool. When it comes to mobile games, he mentioned some game developers tried to run HTML5-powered games on WeChat but that didn’t go well.

Qihoo claims its 360 Mobile Assistant is No. 1 in mobile game distribution in China. Zhou thinks Qihoo still has advantages in distributing mobile games as big players like Tencent and Shanda have launched their mobile game platforms, as 1) Qihoo, unlike Tencent, doesn’t develop mobile games in house that all independent game developers would like to submit games onto its platform, 2) games, compared with other mobile apps, are big. Qihoo’s sending-apps-from-the-Web-to-smartphones service helps save data.

Commenting on Baidu’s acquiring 91, Zhou said this move proved that Qihoo was in the right direction in terms of mobile app distribution. He estimated that at the end of the day there would be two to three app stores left on the China market.

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

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