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Alibaba Buys Android App Store Wandoujia

Wandoujia is the Chinese equivalent of an Android iTunes Store. Source: Wandoujia.com

In what seems to be a very busy few weeks for Alibaba, the company made headlines once more for acquiring ‘Wandoujia’, one of China’s most prominent app stores, reported by Tech Crunch.

Media speculated that the deal was worth approximately $200 million. Although a significant amount, it seems small when compared to Baidu’s $1.9 billion acquisition of Android app store 91 Wireless in 2013, which claims its position as China’s top android app store.

In 2014, Wandoujia was valued at $1 billion, but the company has since faced increasing competition from 91 Wireless and Qihoo 360. Reports of internal conflict within the company contributed to its shortcomings and development over the past two years.

Wandoujia's homepage on internet explorer

Wandoujia’s homepage on internet explorer

Wandoujia is currently the fifth largest app store in China, claiming 6% of marketshare.

The site offers mobile based content and products beyond apps. The acquisition means that Wandoujia will become an integral part of Alibaba’s mobile division, which includes browser-maker UC Web. With the company’s resources, the app store will have the chance to be a key distribution platform to engage Chinese consumers through mobile.

Independent app stores have flourished in China thanks to the blockage of Google services.

Google’s search engine and the Play Store is not available in China. The missing gap means that a lot of independent local companies can infiltrate a less dominated market. It also means that these companies have become the point of contact for international developers or startups whose eyes are on entering China.

A version of this article was published in Tech Crunch on July 7. Read the full version here.

Mars partners with Alibaba

Some of the key brands under Mars. Inc, Source: Daily Mail

Mars Inc, the company that produces iconic candy bars such as Mars Bars, M&Ms and Maltesers, is the latest global consumer food brand to partner with Alibaba, according to Alizila.

The partnership will see all of Mars’ products be made available through Alibaba’s online marketplaces, Tmall.com and Taobao. In an effort to grow the company’s online presence in China, Mars will also leverage Alibaba’s marketing and data capabilities to drive engagement with local consumers and use Alibaba’s logistics network.

Many of Mars’ products are already selling on Tmall, including Wringley’s flagship online store which launched in 2009. However, this official partnership will give consumers access to an ‘international one-stop shopping experience’ through Alibaba’s  platforms directly benefiting China’s rural consumers gaining them access to international products online. Cecilia Li, Vice President and Managing Director of Wringley China comments,

China’s younger generation is the new driving force of consumption, they rely on ecommerce.

Global brands such as Unilever and Hershey’s are also leveraging Alibaba’s various platforms to break into China. Alibaba offers more than just a virtual shelf and instead pairs brands with local logistics services and marketing tailored specifically to Chinese consumers. The nature of these partnerships highlight the importance in finding local partners when global brands enter a foreign market. Alibaba not only facilitates the ecosystem for these brands but also offer an inside ‘know how’.

A version of this appeared in Alizila on June 29. Read the full article here.