Google has been completely absent from China since the year 2010, but that might be changing sometime soon. According to a recent report from The Information, Google soon expects to return to mainland China to sell mobile services. More specifically, with approval from the Chinese government, the company hopes to distribute a special China version of the Google Play Store application for Android smartphones in the country, according to people familiar with the plan.
Google supposedly already has partnerships in place with Chinese companies to help architect and run the China version of the Play Store locally. Additionally, the company is also preparing to announce support for a new version of Android Wear for smartwatches in China. Google could plan to re-enter China as early as this fall, the report states.
As part of this big push back in to China, Google is expected to offer new incentives to OEMs to upgrade their mobile devices to the latest version of Android. Simply put, if more Android smartphones are running the latest software and have a similar experience overall, this will make the platform much more attractive to both application developers and consumers alike.
According to one person familiar with the matter:
As more Chinese app developers look to extend their apps beyond China’s borders and more non-Chinese app makers try to tap the Chinese market, Google wants to ensure all the apps work well across Android devices globally. Thus, hardware partners that will distribute Android Wear or Google Play in China will need to adhere to certain global compatibility standards.
Seeing as how the vast majority of Android devices in China have no Google services installed whatsoever, bringing Google services along with the Play Store, albeit a stripped-down version, to Android devices in the country would be considered a huge win for Android as a whole. Google wants to make money through Android, and China is the place to do it.
Google wants to make money through Android, and China is the place to do it
If this comes into fruition, Google says that it will follow local laws and block applications that the Chinese government deems unacceptable. To many, this might look like a back-tracking on Google’s part, especially following the company’s bold stance on the subject back in 2010. The Chinese smartphone market is growing tremendously, and Android is a huge player in that space. There are tons of great Chinese phone makers that have gained popularity as of late, and Google needs to be on good terms in this region if it wants to make even bigger bucks.