Motorola Tops a Nightmare Year with Closure of its Chinese App Store [UPDATED]

Motorola Shop4Apps China shut

Time to uninstall? Motorola’s Shop4Apps for China.

It’s been a nightmare year for phone-maker Motorola (NASDAQ:GOOG), particularly in China. And now this rough year is ending on even more of a downer with Motorola closing Shop4Apps, its flagship Android app store for selected emerging markets. [UPDATED: Added in Motorola’s statement below].

Shop4Apps is still online (see here), but Chinese-language tech blogs, such as PCpop, have just noticed that the Motorola-run store is no longer taking Android app submissions. Instead, Motorola’s store – and its customers – will be handed over to a Beijing-based company called Crossmo. After digging around, we’ve found a notice on the Crossmo site saying that “Shop4Apps closed on December 26th, 2012,” and that the new third-party store is welcoming app developers to this renamed platform. We’ve also reached out to Motorola representatives in Beijing, and will update if we hear back and we’ve updated with the statement given a couple of hours after posting:

We recently began notifying developers and registered users of our SHOP4APPS Android App store that the store will be closing on December 26, 2012, and that both users and developers will be offered a seamless migration path to an alternative Android App Store.

Motorola is pleased to have played a leading role in establishing the Android app marketplace in China through our SHOP4APPS store. When SHOP4APPS launched in 2010, our goal was to accelerate consumer demand for Android products and provide developers with a channel to promote and distribute Android apps on Motorola devices.

The Android app market has expanded very rapidly since 2010. Chinese consumers now have many mobile app store alternatives where they can access an extensive inventory of local and international Android apps.

For these reasons, Motorola Mobility will be closing SHOP4APPS on December 26, 2012, and consumers and developers will be offered the opportunity to switch to an alternative Android app store, offered by Crossmo Technology. Users just need to download the Crossmo App Store and agree to the terms, and Crossmo will replace SHOP4APPS on existing Motorola phones.

Motorola heralded Shop4Apps as one of the best things about its smartphone ecosystem, enabling its Android phone users in China to buy apps – something that can’t be done on Google Play in China, and paid apps support is also missing from the numerous indie app stores in the country. Motorola’s app store opened in January 2010.

Despite selling some good-looking hardware that’s well adapted to the Chinese market (like this one with a 13-megapixel camera), Motorola’s sales have plummeted in China. It could be said that this is due to very uncompetitive prices, as Chinese-brand phone-makers are making similarly specced Android phones at a much lower price-point. Indeed, we reported yesterday that an amazing 157 million Android smartphones will be sold in China in 2012, but 61 percent of them will be from domestic phone-makers like Lenovo and Huawei. Much of the rest are likely Samsung devices.

Also, Motorola’s massive job cuts earlier this year were met with protests in China before settlements were reached. Motorola is thought to have laid off 1,000 of its 5,000 China-based workers.

(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)

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