Insight
Internet giants fighting for developers
Last Updated: 2014-12-31 14:12 | CE.cn
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By Chen Jing

After spending loads of money on acquisitions, China's three internet giants Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent (BAT) have now turned their eyes to startup developers for mobile platforms. In the past week, Baidu Union announced it would accelerate its mobile business and hoped to achieve the goal of sharing a profit of seven billion yuan in 2014 with the support of developers; Tencent announced on its WeChat that it would allow individual developer to connect to its device functions. Alibaba, though, has been the busiest: it first announced its wireless open strategy "Hundred Rivers Program", and then convened the Aliyun Developers Conference in Hangzhou that gathered more than 7,000 developers from home and abroad.

For mobile developers, BAT's recruitment comes at the right time. According to statistics from a market researcher, the number of mobile apps in China in 2013 exceeded one million, but there were too many similar products, and the percentage of individual developers had dropped sharply from 48.1 percent in 2012 to 28.9 percent in 2013. Technical difficulties, vague profit model, and lack of data and traffic have been their toughest growth problems.

Matchup of strengths

Currently, the strategies of the three companies that have been disclosed seem targeted. Besides the obvious aim at traffic, they also attach more importance to their unique advantages. Baidu's mobile search and distribution channel built around it, Tencent's two supper accesses WeChat and Mobile QQ, and Alibaba's ecommerce accumulation over the years have all been used as their trump cards to attract developers.

Baidu said it would focus on wireless marketing. In the first quarter of this year, the daily ad display of Baidu Union's mobile app cooperation business has exceeded 1.2 billion times, and the ad fulfillment rate was nearly 100 percent. In the next step, Baidu Union would continue to improve its ability to cash in on mobile effort through big data, platform, and technological product innovation, and help mobile entrepreneurs to achieve commercialization through measures like Baidu Loan and Business Base.

Tencent hopes to attract hardware developers through its WeChat Open Platform. The WeChat device functions platform that has been opened can connect wearable terminals, intelligent furniture, intelligent home appliances, intelligent medical equipments, intelligent in-car devices, and intelligent toys, among others. Meanwhile, game developers pin a lot of hopes on Tencent because of the ability of its super accesses to rapidly generate cash. According to its financial statements, in the second quarter of 2014, total revenue of Tencent's mobile games, on both its mobile QQ and WeChat channel, amounted to about RMB 3 billion Yuan, accounting for 7 percent of its total revenue in the second quarter.

Alibaba, on the other hand, makes a general offer to mobile ecommerce developers. Wang Xiruo, Alibaba Vice President, said that the "Baichuan Program" offers app developers a package that integrates Alibaba's wireless resources, including accounts, commodities, orders, payment, data, advertisement, and map. "A development team don't even need a CTO after they join the Baichuan Program; they only need a product manager and they will be able to develop an outstanding app rapidly. Technical support provided by Baichuan will be able to shorten the cycle of app development by as much as a half".

There is always an incentive. Internet giants are bending over backwards to attract developers. One of their purposes is to strengthen their mobile access and enrich the components of their ecosystems. On the other hand, they can make profit by sharing revenue with developers. Hong Bo, a well-known online commentator, said that: "the characteristics of each platform are showing themselves. Developers need to choose carefully. The key is to see whether what you develop fit the platform".

Platform is key

Yu Jiawen, founder and CEO of mobile app Super Curriculum, is now merely 23 years old, but his app has 10 million users. "Currently, 40 percent of the data of Super Curriculum comes from schools, and the rest 60 percent is uploaded by students. It is because of cloud computing services that we are able to process all these data rather cheaply". According to Yu Jiawen, he has moved his Super Curriculum onto Ali Cloud. Compared to buying operation servers, cloud services provided by internet giants can significantly reduce the business cost of developers. In the first half of this year, BAT all cut their cloud service price. Tang Daosheng, senior executive VP of Tencent, said that: "we hope to attract developers with infrastructure".

Cloud computing helps to solve the cost problem, and the sharing of platform data helps to lower the threshold for developers to develop apps. The mobile app "Liu Liu" is a communication platform tailored for pets owners. Its founder Zhang Fan said that after joining Baichuan Commodity Library they can achieve the direct online purchase of more than 100 types of dog food and cat food recommenced by pet owners; all these data come from Tmall and Taobao. "For a startup team, it would take at least one year to establish cooperation with so many sellers. With the addition of ecommerce service, we have also increased user stickiness".

Developers can even get data from government through the cloud platform. Ma Ningyu, standing deputy director of Economy and Information Commission of Guizhou Province, said that Guizhou On the Cloud is a basic platform constructed with the help of Ali Could's Feitian large-scale distributive computing system; one of its features is the openness, interconnectivity and sharing of big data resources. "Data need to be market-oriented to be valuable. We hope that through this platform we can open data concerning electronic affairs, transport, tourism, and environmental protection, among others, to developers, helping them to develop targeted apps. The only condition is "data swap", meaning developers need to hand out their own data for exchange, as references for government's policy making".

 

 

 

 

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