Agent Tian

Thoughts on Buying apps in China?

This comic illustrates what happend to me when I really wanted to buy an app on my parent’s ipad when I was in China.

While in Australia you only need to type in your visa card details, the way the iTune’s App Store currently works in China can take ages – especially in my case where I don’t have a fixed phone number attached to my bank account, therefore I have to go to the bank to change my phone number while bringing my ID with me. The thing is, these banks in China will normally require your phone number so when you are paying for something that costs more than 200 yuan, they will send you a random password to confirm that you are the owner of the card and you are the one that’s making the transaction.

Here is a translated page of a tutorial on how to charge your apple ID in China – if something requires a tutorial, it already kinda tells you how troublesome it is, right? http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fw2v.wistone.com%2Fpay_help%2Fappstore_rmb_help.html

Also, people in online forums are complaining about that after their bank got charged, it took more than a day for the money to be applied to their account.

So, if you want to buy a 6 yuan app in China, the only way to do it is that you need to pay 50 yuan (equals to 10 small bowls of noodles in China!!) in advance while going through all these banking details ( roughly 10~20 mins),  then wait for a day to have the money applied to your account, and only then can you get the 6 yuan app you wanted! At the same time, buying a free app would take only a couple of seconds to type in your password. Which one would you choose? I happened to be the group that just gives up on the paid apps and just get the free ones. I believe most people would do the same thing.

I’ve also tried to gift an app from my Australian account – but guess what, after I spent the money and tried to get the app from the Chinese account, I found that the gift code is only to be used within Australia. XO

You might want to know why Apple has made the payment system so troublesome for the Chinese market – but I guess they were trying their best. In the previous system, people had to pay Apple via American credit cards only (as they charge American dollars), so that there were a lot of American credit card owners who had their cards stolen and illegally used by Chinese consumers who didn’t know that they are using these cards illegally (well, some of them know but not everyone). The thing is, there are a lot of online shops on Taobao.com (China’s biggest trading website) where people can pay these online merchants to get an Apple ID with a American credit card attached to it.  Once the illegal use of the Apple ID has been reported, Apple would freeze that account and return the money to the credit card owner in America. However, the result is that lot of transactions that the app developers have worked so hard for are fake. *shattered dev hearts* Therefore Apple has recently changed their payment system in China and allow the Chinese to pay for apps using RMB – however, like you saw, it’s pretty troublesome.

Contrary to popular opinion, it is actually not all that uncommon for Chinese consumers to pay for virtual content. In fact, the free-to-play style MMORPG have earned A LOT in China. People could spend more than 100,000 yuan (roughly AUS$17,000) on a sword in a popular MMORPG and it’s not that unusual. These super rich and hard-core players just want to show off their wealth by owning that sword and walk around in the virtual world. On the other hand, a recent research has found that in China 95% of young females reject buying pirated products – and that’s quite true, because of ‘vanity’. How? Well, let’s use a conversation as an example.

Girl A carries a new bag to work.

Girl B: ‘Ah! you have a new LV bag! It looks great!’

Girl A: ‘I got it from Hongkong, it’s really expensive but I got it with a discount.’

Girl B: ‘OMG!’ looking at the bag inside-out.

A few days later.

Girl B and Girl C are going shopping.

Girl B:’You know Girl A? She bought a fake LV bag and tried to pretend that it was real. Disgusting!’

Eventually everyone knows that Girl A once used a fake LV bag and Girl A never wants to use it again.

This kind of psychology would also work on these girl’s phones, even though it’s not that much similar. At the same time, some of the girls might not even know what jailbreak means but they just get it as the other people recommended them to do so. If these girls think that jailbreaking their iPhone equals to using a fake LV bag, then at least among girls, the chance of people jailbreaking their phone will be reduced. It is quite sad for me that it seems playing on people’s vanity is the best way to make profit from Chinese, but I can’t do anything about it – the simple reason is just that there are way too many rich people in China, while there are also a lot of poor people.





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