Earlier this year, reports of Google making a come back to China had surfaced, stating that Google was planning to bring back Play Store in China. Now it seems like, it can happen as early as the start of next year.
According to a report by Reuters, the Play store in China will be separate from the rest of the world. Google has also reportedly agreed to the censorship laws of the country — the most debatable of them all too — which will require the search giant to store its data locally in China-located servers.
Due to these same censorship issues and refusal to store the data in China, Google had pulled back most of its major services from the communist country and has since then, maintained a very limited presence.
However, times have changed and China has emerged as one of the largest untapped markets for tech companies all over the world. The fact that Apple made $58.7 billion last in the year ended Sept. 26 in Greater China is a testimony to the growing importance of China as a market.
Moreover, with many more new technologies which have already started or are to come in the future such as wearables, IoT, augmented reality, virtual reality, Google simply can no longer ignore the Chinese market. Bringing Play store will definitely be a starting point for Google to regain its presence in China.
The Chinese version of Play Store is expected to go live in 2016, probably after the Chinese New Year in February and before early summers.
However, things are not going to be easy for Google. Many experts believe that in addition to Apple, which has made a strong foothold in China over the past few years, Google also has to compete with many Chinese players who have become substitutes of its major trademark services.
Google might thus go with a more gradual roll-out of services, and see if the preceding steps work in its favour.
Chinese companies like Baidu and Wandoujia have already become quite popular in the country and have taken the place of Google Search and the Play Store, respectively. Youku Tudou has replaced Youtube and Baidu, along with Qihoo 360 and Tencent Holdings, holds a major share of app ecosystem in the country.