Technology

Amazon beats Google in China with paid Android apps

A Chinese girl uses a mobile phone
Image caption The Chinese market has many home-grown stores offering paid apps

Amazon has become the first Western technology firm to offer paid-for Android apps in China - beating Google to the lucrative market.

Google's Chinese store for its mobile operating system - the most popular globally - only offers free apps.

Amazon's move paves the way for it to launch its Kindle e-reader devices in the country, analysts predict.

Other locally-based services already offer paid apps to China which is the world's largest mobile phone market.

But many of the home-grown services face issues with malicious software contained within apps, some of which are pirated versions.

In contrast, the Amazon store, which launched over the weekend, promises "quality and safety testing".

Massive market

As well as curating existing apps, Amazon said it will work with local developers to create programs specifically for local users.

The move is part of Amazon's strategy to dig deeper into the Chinese mobile phone market.

Compared to its dominant position in other countries such as the US and UK, Amazon controlled less than 3% of China's massive 169bn yuan (£17.6bn) business-to-consumer e-commerce market in the fourth quarter last year.

Image caption Amazon launched its paid-for apps over the weekend

In December last year, the retailer launched its Kindle web store, but is yet to sell the actual e-reader devices.

However, China, like many countries in the region, has a thriving market in counterfeit electronics - meaning many consumers are already likely familiar with Amazon's product.

Apple apology

Key competitor Apple already has a significant presence in the country.

China is currently Apple's second-largest market, with more than 17,000 outlets selling its products.

The company says it has eight stores in mainland China, with another three in Greater China, which includes Hong Kong.

However, Apple's reputation among Chinese consumers has taken a hit recently after chief executive Tim Cook was forced to apologise to customers over "misunderstandings" surrounding its repair policies.

"We are aware that a lack of communications... led to the perception Apple's attitude was arrogant and that we do not care and attach importance to consumer feedback," Mr Cook wrote.

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