NetEase Offers Google a Way Back to China

Ever since Google left mainland China nearly seven years ago, it’s been looking for a way back in. The latest hope is a proposed tie-up to launch Google’s mobile app and digital-media store in China with NetEase, one of the country’s first internet brands.

NetEase has approached Google to form a joint venture to launch the store, called Google Play, in China, according to two people familiar with the discussions. It’s unclear whether the talks will lead to an agreement, the people said. Other Chinese tech companies have previously approached Google but nothing came of those discussions.

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Looking beyond phones, that same year, Google took a minority stake in a Chinese artificial intelligence startup that agreed to power voice activation for Android-based smartwatches sold in China. The Beijing-based startup, Mobvoi, has since unveiled other voice-interaction products for cars, allowing Google to keep an eye on China’s connected-autos and devices market.

Erick Cai commented on this article.
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If Google Play were to obtain approval, there’s no guarantee Chinese consumers would flock to it.