We see Android launcher will be one of the hottest topics in China in 2014. Ambitious Chinese companies or entrepreneurs always want control of users’ access to Internet services and then monetize user traffic or sell services to users. On the Chinese Web, Qihoo is such a company that successfully converted its free security users into adopters of its browsers through which users access all Web content. Now the company is making revenues from businesses through a variety of online advertising offerings and from users through mobile gaming.

In the past several years when mobile Internet use started soaring, some Chinese Internet entrepreneurs tried to develop custom Android ROMs or make smartphones to control the access to mobile content and services. Xiaomi, the smart device maker and mobile service provider, is a typical example. Founded in 2010, the company had sold more than 25 million smartphones, pre-loaded with MIUI — the custom Android ROM by the company, and more than 30 million MIUI users (Xiaomi phone users are included) as of 2013.

Although it is estimated Xiaomi has become one of the most profitable smartphones in China, the management said their goal wasn’t making much money from hardware, but building the software ecosystem and monetizing the user base in the long run. MIUI has managed to generated revenues from mobile gaming, other paid apps/services, search marketing, among others. Xiaomi also owns Duokan, a mobile publishing platform.

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Tracey Xiang

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