Google’s China App Store Talks Heat Up

Google intends to launch a version of its Google Play app store in China, hoping to exercise greater influence over a market that accounts for roughly half the people who use its Android mobile operating system, say several people with knowledge of the company’s plans.

In recent months, the company has indicated its intention to reverse a longstanding Google policy and distribute its app store with phone makers and other potential partners in China, according to a person who was involved in the discussions and two people who were briefed about them. Such a move would be a remarkable turn of events following the public feuding between Google and Chinese authorities over hacking allegations nearly five years ago.

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Despite not officially having an app store in China, the country is still a sizable market for Google mobile apps. Tens of millions of Chinese smartphone owners are estimated to use some Google apps, such as Google Maps, that are available for download through existing Android app stores or preloaded on gray market devices. So the Google brand, while weakened, hasn’t gone away, particularly on mobile.

Amir Efrati and Andy Tian commented on this article.
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Even if Google launches an app store, success is far from assured against a slew of domestic incumbents.