Qihoo 360, the leading Internet security and browser provider in China, just announced a strategic partnership with Sungy Mobile, the Android launcher and mobile service developer that got listed on the NASDAQ several months ago.

The whole idea of the partnership is Sungy Mobile will promote Qihoo’s mobile security and other services in markets outside China through its GO Series, including a launcher and a set of tools for customizing your Android system.

Unlike many in the rest of the world who think Android launcher is for making the smartphone system more customizable or clean, Chinese developers think it is strategic: an entry point to all Android phones.

If you have gained a large number of Internet users, most Chinese tech people believe, monetizing the traffic or charging users directly is just a matter of time.

Qihoo 360 itself has proven the theory. It managed to gain a huge number of users through free Web security services and monetize them by converting them into users of its web browsers. The company has been making revenues from ads on the landing page of browsers and other ad placements, revenue shares from web games on its gaming channel, and more recently search advertising.

Not only on the Web, Qihoo also has been well positioned as an entry point on the mobile Internet market in China. After it had convinced hundreds of millions Chinese users that their smartphones needed Qihoo’s mobile security apps, the company successfully got over 300 million to adopt 360 Mobile Assistant, an Android app download and management app — In the mobile Internet era, browser isn’t regarded an entry-point product as it is on the PC-based Web, for users don’t have to open a mobile browser before accessing any mobile content. Instead, users visit an app stores more and apps like 360 Mobile Assistant are able to push apps or other content through notifications.

Qihoo started international expansion from mid-2013, and had gained 10 million overseas users and got some market share in Brazil by investing in a local security service before the end of the year.

But that was dwarfed by Clean Master, an Android storage management app developed by one of Qihoo’s direct competitors in China, who announced 100 million installs at the end of the year, only after one year since its launch. And the developer of Clean Master and competing products has been spun off from its parent company Kingsoft and filed for a US IPO.

So it’s no surprising that Qihoo would accelerate its international expansion. And the cooperation with Sungy Mobile isn’t a surprise either. Sungy introduced Qihoo 360 as an investor before it went public last year. But of course the major reason is the above-mentioned theory on the Android launcher as a new entry point.

The Go Launcher series by Sungy Mobile had had 364 million installs, with 70% from outside China, as of the end of 2013. It is so far the most successful Chinese company of its kind.

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

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