Zoho Launches in China @

Just days ago we read that China, already the world leader in cellphone use, has surpassed the USA as the No. 1 nation in Internet users., so of course it’s a huge market that SaaS providers would love to enter. What better way than have the market come to you?

That’s what happened to Zoho when their Beijing Office was contacted by PC Stars, the largest online distributor in China with more than 2400 resellers and over 1000 system integrators. The are assembling a portal at Baihui, currently offering specific search and productivity tools. Their search products appear to be geared to product groups like software, hardware, games and automotive.

For the productivity apps they teamed up with Zoho, who would provide white-label versions of their products. After a few months of private beta testing, Baihui built a new data center (*), and today they are launching the Zoho Suite under their own brand:

These apps will be offered free to individual users, just like they are in the US, and CRM will have a similar pricing, too: free for the first 3 users, then 99RMB /user/months, which is about $14, close to the US pricing. (I would have thought Chinese prices to be less, but they know what they’re doing…) Baihui will later add other Zoho (Business) products.

Zoho’s current user base is 800,000 adding 100k about every 5-6 weeks, and they certainly expect that number to jump with the China deal.

OEM-ing their product is not unusual for Zoho, and especially for the parent company: there are other deals under consideration, and if you own a D-Link access point, chances are the wifi-manager software you have is from Adventnet. I plan to write a backgrounder on Adventnet, their approach to business and their international presence in the near future.

(* Please note, Baihui’s investment is into their own data center, running the Zoho Apps, not Zoho’s parent company, Adventnet, as (first) incorrectly reported on TechCrunch.) Update: it’s now fixed on TC.