In an excellent example of how cross-company cooperation can propel skyrocketing growth, Chinese search giant Baidu’s PhotoWonder app has chalked up a growth rate of 4300 percent with monthly downloads of 1.6 million due primarily to a photo-sharing craze on messaging service WeChat — owned by another Chinese Internet giant Tencent.

This and other interesting findings have been revealed in a report released by Android app store Wandoujia — which has started to roll out monthly reports on trends in China’s mobile market based on its app store downloads. Wandoujia says it currently has over 170 million Android users in China.

Baidu acquired the small PhotoWonder startup back in 2011, and users are currently infatuated with a feature that allows them to upload a photo of themselves and get matched with a “similar-looking” celebrity. This can then be shared immediately to social networks — including WeChat’s “Moments” feature, a feed that shares updates with friends.

PhotoWonder has posted the highest growth-rate on Wandoujia this month, relative to an average of the previous three months.

With WeChat’s impressive success, it is little wonder that app developers smart enough to cater to WeChat users tend to score. As of early this month, WeChat has passed 70 million overseas users — from a user base approaching over 400 million with 195 million monthly active users.

A gaming app called Crazy Pic Puzzle — touted as the Chinese version of Icomania — has done just that. The report notes that when players get a correct guess, the image is “conveniently packaged for sharing to WeChat”. This has contributed to its off-the-charts growth rate of 80,000 percent and monthly downloads of 2 million, becoming the fastest-growing game on Wandoujia’s app store.

Wandoujia’s latest report also notes that of the top five fastest-growing apps in China, three help users get bargains on whatever they spend money on — an app called AliCall which helps users make cheaper calls, one to discover group-buying deals called Discount 800, and another to discover free Wi-Fi.

In a sign of how the mobile app sector is heating up rapidly in China, the world’s largest smartphone market, Baidu yesterday announced it would spend $1.9 billion to acquire third-party app distribution platform 91 Wireless, with a Baidu spokesman saying that mobile app stores are an important entry point to the mobile Internet, and are thus of great strategic interest to the company.

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