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“In building launcher products, we must do so from the user’s point of view,” says T...

2014-10-10 Sohu IT

Readers may have heard about the resignation and subsequent entrepreneurialism of Tao Li, a former Vice President of Qihoo 360, who created a desktop launcher called APUS that is geared towards overseas markets outside of China. In the public’s view, this type of mobile application was not a trending product—so why did a former executive of Qihoo 360, in charge of the corporation’s international business, choose to focus on it? Below, a Sohu IT journalist interviews Tao Li on these very topics.

1. Overseas markets are open to development

Tao Li believes that China’s domestic launcher market has long been in a state of harsh competition, with top product lines frequently “copying” each other. Protection for innovation is lacking, and thus public relations wars, and even more nasty forms of competitive badmouthing, are in common. In contrast, overseas markets boast vaster opportunities: the number of potential mobile users has reached 2 billion. As Tao Li expresses, “the cake is big, meaning more opportunities for everyone.” Even if other Chinese and international companies also choose to enter the mobile launcher space, the global market is so large that there will never be just one dominant player.

2. Create launcher products from the user’s point of view

In Tao Li’s view, China’s mainstream launcher applications are typically overloaded with features, which limit the creation of a truly good user experience. For example, “The ability to change wallpapers is not one of the core needs of users who download launcher products; nor is a traditional ‘menu of options.’ These types of features are both reflections of programmers’ traditional ways of thinking.”

Tao Li cites Apple as an example. One of the major reasons users enjoy using Apple products is their simple and intuitive user interface. The principle of “what you see is what you get” (as compared with iOS, the Android operating system requires a greater investment in time and effort of its users) and its resulting straightforward user experience reflects Apple’s deep understanding of the mobile interface.

3. A tool or a platform? This remains to be seen (or, “Execute and observe”) *

Some media have classified launcher App to tools and platform, however, Tao Li believes that this only occurs from an industry point of view. In contrast, he hopes to begin with the user experience in mind: “Currently, there are only two major categories of mobile applications that could also qualify as platforms: the first category is social media applications, of which WeChat is the best representation; the second is security applications, of which 360 Mobile Guard is a good example.” Tao Li emphasizes that no tool is simply born a platform; to become one requires, among other traits, the establishment of a large user base. It also requires the creation of customer value and social value.

“Small entrepreneurial teams should be wary of being misguided by thinking typical of large companies. That is, these teams should not focus only on the business value of the product, but should also return to the essence of the product—and in a solid and thorough manner, carefully craft the user experience. The remaining aspects should be left to users to choose.”

To date, besides the launcher’s application recommendation function, not many potential profit models can be seen in APUS. In regards to the product’s future business model, Tao Li himself admits that he does not have many ideas—nor does he believe that these aspects should demand much thought this early on. Eventually, whether APUS will continue to develop as a tool or as a platform remains to be seen.

After a few days of trying out the product, I personally feel that APUS is relatively simple and practical. Firstly, the installation package is only 1M, and does not take up much of the phone’s available memory space. When used, the application runs smoothly. Secondly, based on existing data as well as the individual user’s habits, APUS can automatically sort existing apps into “commonly used” and “not commonly used” categories. Third, APUS Boost the small acceleration function meets the needs of Android users by providing a daily cleaning feature. When this feature is not in use, the icon sits in a corner of the screen, and does not affect the user experience.

Within one week after its release in July of this year, the APUS Launcher had amassed more than 1 million users; within two months, the number of users had exceeded 20 million. Currently, the product has over 30 million users and nearly 8 million DAU.

While this is not a concept that completely disrupts existing products, perhaps Tao Li put it best: return to a product’s core, design the best product possible, and let users decide on the rest.

APUS Launcher is now the most popular Android Launcher to speed up phone, customize phone home sceen with thousands of themes and wallpapers.

Download APUS Launcher on Google Play

Direct Download APUS Launcher APK