Google, like most other US companies, hasn’t had the best of times in China. The company struggled to keep its service afloat, marred by repeated bans, suspensions and in-house competition. However, The Information is now reporting (Paywall), that the Alphabet-subsidiary is planning a comeback to Mainland China, with almost all of its services.
And how does Google plan to start its re-building process in China ? Through Android.
As per numerous sources familiar with this process, Google is planning to re-debut a special China version of its Google Play mobile app store for Android smartphones in the country. The company is already in talks with the Chinese Government for such a launch. Google has in fact architectured the entire plan already, and has tied up with major Chinese companies for the launch.
This re-debuting process, if it does happen, could be a huge positive for the company. The company parted ways with the Chinese Government for its hardened censorship stand in a public feud in 2010, an incidence which many Googlers deem as a big mistake. China’s censorship regime requires foreign companies to store user data locally and serve the same from within-China data centers — a requirement which Google has reportedly agreed to comply with.
Another major service debut, which Google is planning, is a customised Android version for Chinese smartwatches. While Android Wear is already there, the same is not available in China, like most Google services.
The Information further reports, that Google is expected to offer new incentives to phone makers to upgrade Android phones to the latest versions of the operating system. This is being done to help upgrade all of China’s massively fragmented Android users to one singular platform, and bring about more consistency to its OS — something which Google has been accused of not just in China, but globally.
The consistency clause has become even more important now, as Google plans to run not just smartphones, but VR googles, smart eyewear, smartwatches, automobile among others on Android too.
While Google obviously wants control over how Android gets within China and in what form, Chinese app developers too are eager to push their apps outside Chinese borders to allow users in other nations experience their apps. This is something, which has been long complained by developers within China, whose downloads are constrained, largely because local app stores are non-existent outside China.
To further its push within China, Google has ‘promised’ local authorities of censorship law compliance and that it would block apps that the government deems objectionable.
The path for Google though, as is the case with almost every other mega US tech giant, will be tough to say the least. China has heavyweights like Qihoo 360, Tencent Holdings and Baidu who dominate the app ecosystem within the country, though Google is expected to get hardware partners like Huawei to preload the store on new devices.