It has been reported that Google is working tirelessly to re-establish its products in China, with the Google Play Store set to spearhead the effort by as soon as February 2016.
It has been a number of years since the internet giant has had a presence in China, since issues over censorship caused them to pull out of the nation. This has done little to hinder Androids great popularity in China thanks to companies like Xiaomi and Huawei repeatedly delivering high-quality and affordable devices that have even gained popularity in the West. Despite this, domestic Chinese Android devices continually ship without many of the Google apps that most would consider a staple on modern Android devices such as Gmail, Chrome and Maps. Instead, other companies have picked up the slack left by Google’s departure, with smartphone developers delivering their own custom Android versions built upon the Android Open Source Project and the search and app distribution platforms covered by Chinese startups such as Baidu and Wandoujia.
In order to now comply with the requirements of the Chinese government, the Chinese version of the Google Play Store will be “set up specifically for China, and not connected to overseas versions of Google Play” according to reports. This will allow for the implementation of content filtering and storage rules that are in place. Furthermore, implementation for Chinese payment platforms like Alipay and WeChat Payment will be replacing Google’s own payment systems which currently does not exist in China. All of this is in an effort to reach out to the currently untapped Chinese market, a location at which Apple are currently turning profits of over $58 billion, all the while complying with the relevant regulations, perhaps in part to their lack of opposition.
From here on, it will be a fight for Google to make their decision to reach back into China a worthwhile one, where their presence is nothing compared to their ubiquity in the West. Will we see Google once again pull out of China, or continue to become a greater worldwide presence? Only time will tell.