App Store “10x” download speed boost in China

A bit of news that has got minimal English coverage in the past couple of days: Apple seems to have rolled out a CDN update for their App Store in China, with folks talking about as much as a “10x” download speed increase for end-users.

This is the type of unsexy but critical infrastructure work that at the end of the day will make a big difference for the user experience, and therefore, a company’s top line (and bottom line). I tried updating some apps while in China a few weeks ago – it was painful to say the least. Hopefully this dramatically changes things. And this is also the kind of stuff local entrepreneurs in emerging markets need to agonize over – how do you make do with poor infrastructure, be it broadband penetration, availability of credit cards (and other payment methods), or just poor end-device computing power (cheap PCs).

I think this story is interesting for potentially another angle – I’ve always wondered how much of the iPhone sales in China are driven by luxury goods buyers, the type that are usually late tech adopters. I’ve noticed anecdotally that many owners of early version iPhones in China were the well-to-do who used it as a status symbol – I doubt these folks likely explore the App Store that much. On the other end of the scale, there was and has always been a active scene of sideloaders, and I suspect iPhone jailbreak rates are much, much higher in China. These two opposite groups of users both have little use for the official App Store – and that could be why they’ve put up with slow App Store speeds for so long.

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