Google is planning a make a comeback in China by launching the Play Store in early 2016, which is some time after the Chinese New Year in February. This version of the Play Store would be specifically set for China.
The app store is expected to include payment options Alipay, the online service from Alibaba group and Tencent's WeChat Payments. The internet search giant would comply with Chinese laws including those governing data storage and filtering of sensitive content, sources familiar with the matter revealed to Reuters.
The latest disclosure corroborates the previous report that surfaced in September suggesting Google is prepping for a special China app store for which it expects to get approval from the Chinese government. The company has extensive plans for the architecture and execution of the store locally and even has partnerships with specific companies in China.
Google's move would mark a new relationship with China after the company pulled its services out of China in 2010, following the detection of "highly sophisticated and targeted attacks" originating from China.
"These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China," noted David Drummond, SVP, corporate development and chief legal officer, Google.
Meanwhile, market analysts believe that Google has lost its foothold on a majority of services such as search and video streaming to Chinese rivals. "There are a substantial number of freeways people get music in China that makes it difficult for any service, especially from the West, to get into the market," asserts analyst Rob Enderle.
The flip side of Google's new move suggests the company values the Chinese market. Shen Si, CEO of Chinese mobile advertising company PapayaMobile, and former Google employee says: "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. Google Play would be a really good product for that because it's not very sensitive."