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Selling utility apps such as battery savers and speed boosters might not seem like the path to world domination. But China’s biggest Internet firms are doing just that to amass hundreds of millions of international users—and gain an understanding of their browsing habits.
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.
Chinese Internet companies are spending tens of millions of dollars on advertising campaigns to get people to download their mobile applications in countries like Brazil, Indonesia and Egypt. In these Android-dominated markets, companies like Qihoo 360, Baidu and Cheetah Mobile have figured out ...