Google Play Store may hit China in early 2016
The Google playstore is Android’s default app hub and is available all over the world, except in China. The Play Store has been absent in the region since 2010 over stringent censorship laws imposed by the local government.
With the new offering, Google now seems to be willing to accept the latter; Reuters reports that Google would comply with content censorship requests, but keep the store separate as to not impose those requirements on users located outside of the country.
A launch of the app store could come in first half of 2016, possibly as early as after Chinese New Year in February, according to the report. The company may use the Play Store to further expand into China, and for example use it as a launchpad for some of its own apps and services.
Android is the most-used mobile operating system in China, but most users don’t have any Google apps on their phones. Instead, they access app stores from mobile device makers like Xiaomi and internet companies like Tencent and Baidu.
The government will apparently monitor the apps that are submitted on the Play Store and also store the data from them locally. This would leave out some major applications from the app hub. In any case, this is a start from Google and it’s good to see that the company is willing to make the necessary adjustments to the Play Store’s policies in order to accommodate the Chinese audience, who account for a large chunk of the global smartphone population.
Interestingly, the report claims that Google Play in China would be specifically designed for China and would not be connected to the current international version of Google Play. Allegedly, Google will even comply with Chinese laws regarding filtering (aka censoring) content within the Play Store. It is unclear if Google would bring the full suite of apps and Play services or not.
Google has reportedly wanted to get back into the Chinese market and is planning to slowly bring products back to the region. Apparently, the call of the yuan and over 1.3 billion people is hard to resist.