Zhang Xiangdong, president of Sungy Mobile, chatted today with us about the company’s experience in running mobile apps overseas markets at 2014 TechCrunch China event in Beijing, China.

There are more than 200 Android launchers around the world. Android Launcher users as a percentage has expanded from 20% to 30%, according to him.

He claims three apps of Go Series, weather, lock screen (with 50 million users) and input, are number one in their categories on Android. Eight apps have more than 100 million users.

Sungy Mobile went public on the NASDAQ in November last year. As an early mover in mobile, the company, however, didn’t gain much traction with mobile news where the company started until Go Launcher, an Android launcher app, was rolled out. Before the Android one, Sungy Mobile spent two years developing a similar one, named Heart, improving the Symbian interface. Now most of Go Launcher users are from outside China. The company monetizes the user base through advertising and paid apps.

After Go Launcher, the company created a variety of mobile apps that are named Go series which had 100 monthly active users and saw 103% increase in the total revenue, which is RMB49 million (about US$8mn), in Q1 2014. The company also makes revenues from mobile reading and the mobile news business.

When it comes to monetization he said advertising is just an early stage. Sungy Mobile wants to make the Go set a platform to carry more third-party content such as games.

It is well-received in China that gaming is one of the best monetization approaches for a free app like Go Launcher. Sungy Mobile established a subsidiary for gaming in early this year. The company wouldn’t develop games but recommend games based on user behaviors. What’s more, Sungy Mobile acquired three online game companies in the first quarter.

South Korea is now the second largest overseas market for Go Launcher, Mr. Zhang announced in May this year. Sungy Mobile has established a joint venture with Teddy Hoon-Tack Jung, the chairman of iHQ — What’s interesting is iHQ is an entertainment company. In an article by Zhang earlier this year, he mentioned iHQ has successfully helped promote a cafe brand in South Korea and they expect Mr. Jung’s experience in entertainment industry to do the magic trick again for Sungy’s apps.

Sungy Mobile acquired GetJar, a US-based mobile ad network, in February this year. The acquisition is in order to improve advertising efficiency, according to Zhang. The company has set up an office in the U.S.

When it come to acquisition strategy, Zhang said they’d acquire companies who need Go launcher to gain users. Zhang thinks Chinese entrepreneurs make more effort on business model but in the overseas markets user experience is more important. He said their current challenges are monetization and localization. But he addresses that internationalization is a trend and Chinese entrepreneurs should take a try no matter how hard it is.

Tracey Xiang

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

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