The Information reports that according to “two people familiar with the discussions,” NetEase, a Chinese Internet technology company, is seeking a joint venture with Google to bring back the Play Store to China. Whether this will materialize remains to be seen, but if it does, the return of the Play Store could mean all sorts of opportunities for developers.
You may remember that back in 2010, Google officially left the Chinese market after a bit of a dramatic episode: Google refused to use censorship in its search results, redirected users to Hong Kong, and the Chinese government put a restriction on Google’s HK website. And ever since, despite the fact that Android has dominated the world’s largest smartphone market, Google’s very own Play Store was absent from many of the phones sold there.
Well, that might change soon. Might. The latest report suggests that China’s one of the biggest Internet brands has reached out to Google to form a joint venture to re-launch the store in China. Mind you, just like previous rumors of Google’s comeback, this is just another attempt that might fall through at any moment. But it looks like both Google and the Chinese government are feeling immense pressure to make it work.
China’s involvement in the WTO and its emergence in the global economy as a late liberalizer have put the nation’s government in a difficult position: it essentially drove out Google six years ago, but both external and internal factors say this must change. Google, I am assuming, is in a similar situation. China’s heavy censorship and problematic cyber policies go against the company’s values, but China has emerged as the world’s largest smartphone market and will stay that way for quite some time now. And after all, with companies like Huawei and Xiaomi, its relations with Chinese tech companies have shifted dramatically in the past five years or so.
So if this joint venture works out, who benefits from it? A lot of people actually. Users in China, for one, will have greater access to a wider range of apps. Developers outside China will finally be able to enter this huge market. Whether Xi Jinping will be able to further the structural reforms that Deng put in place and whether his government and Google will see eye-to-eye on the new proposal by NetEase remain to be seen.
Whether Xi Jinping will be able to further the structural reforms that Deng put in place and whether his government and Google will see eye-to-eye on the new proposal by NetEase remain to be seen.
What are your thoughts on China’s censorship? Would this joint venture affect you? Let us know by leaving a comment below!