For months now we’ve been hearing rumors, and even semi-official murmurings, about howGoogle intends to re-enter the Chinese market, bringing services like Google Play to the country. Back in September, The Information even suggested that we might see the new store as early as this fall. According to the latest report from Reuters, however, the effort won’t actually go live until 2016.
Google is already well in works on the effort according to sources “familiar to the matter” and will likely launch Google Play in the country after the Chinese New Year in February. We already knew that this version of Google Play would be “special” and different from the rest of the world, but Reuters’ sources give us a bit more detail on what to expect.
Aside from obvious language localization, the Chinese Google Play store would also be hosted entirely within the country and would have no direct connection to the ‘regular’ Google Play store’s servers. This Chinese version would fully comply with Chinese filtering laws, which require certain “sensitive” terms to be blocked.
Google would also work to have local payment options baked in, like Alipay, WeChat Payment, and other local methods that would make the store more friendly for China.
But what about getting approval from China? According to Reuters, they don’t actually need explicit approval from the Chinese government to launch the app store, they just need to fully comply with Chinese law – something they refused to do when they first pulled out in 2010. From the sounds of it, Google is now willing to fully cooperate, likely understanding how much of an opportunity China is for the company.
After all, Android is king in China, and continues to grow rapidly. That said, the competition in China will be very fierce for Google, where dozens of 3rd party app stores are already well established. Of course, this could actually play to Google’s advantage. Many of these stores offer a fragmented experience, and there’s also tons of virus/malware issues with many of these app stores. Google Play would not only provide a more unified experience, but a more secure one as well.
If Google can find success with the Google Play store in China, we imagine that this will only be the beginning.