According to internal sources, Google is intending to launch the China version of its Google Play smartphone app store next year. This will be the US giant’s first major venture in the market since ending localised product support in 2010.
Google would not need explicit approval from China’s government to launch the app store, but the firm does need to comply with Chinese laws including those governing data storage and content filtering.
The planned Google Play app store would be produced specifically for China, and not connected to overseas versions, the sources said.
Five years ago, Google largely pulled its services out of China after declining to continue self-censoring its search results. While it has preserved a limited presence in China, most of its services, including Play, had been inaccessible.
It has been no secret that Chief Executive Sundar Pichai and others at Google want to get back into China, and Google Play would likely be its introduction.
Shen Si, CEO of Chinese mobile advertising company PapayaMobile and a former Google employee, notes that for Google, offering a product in China would be representative and show the firm values the market.
“If they want to break the ice with the Chinese market then they have to pick a pretty important product to make available to the Chinese people and make it really localised,” she said.
“Google Play would be a really good product for that because it’s not very sensitive.”
China is the world’s largest smartphone market, and competitor Apple who complies with local laws, made US$58.7 billion last in the year in Greater China and counts it as its second-biggest market.