I was in China for the past week on a fact-finding mission to see if AppEsteem could help clean up their app ecosystem. I met with teams from Qihoo, Baidu, Microsoft, and ThreatBook to get educated. Here's what I learned:
- The large AV vendors in China (Qihoo, Tencent, and Baidu) have a robust whitelisting service for in-country apps, which they provide to apps for free. These services include company validation and app certification. So while a local Chinese app has to submit at least three times, the process already exists.
- What's considered "clean" and "unwanted" is different in China than the rest of the world. Many apps trusted by Chinese AV vendors would not pass muster with non-Chinese AVs. Which means that vendors will need help getting their apps compliant for the rest of the world.
- The mobile world works differently in China. Since Google Play isn't available through the Great Firewall, there are many Android app stores out there, each with their own approach to curation. This means that it's pretty easy to lure customers to install repackaged, fraudulent, unwanted, and malicious Android apps from app stores with not-so-hygenic practices.
There's definitely a big opportunity, and even some urgency to get it right. But doing business in China is harder than just hiring a local bus-dev person; we'd have to solve language and cultural issues too.
One thing is clear: I have to think bigger than just Windows. I was thinking that I'd tackle Android next year, but now I'm going to spin up some additional research so I know how a sealed APK would work.
So it will take some time to figure out the right approach, and we'll have to find some great local partners to pull it off. I'd like to get something set up by early next year; in the meantime I'll stay focused on getting the Windows beta up and running.