Google is reportedly planning a return to China, which would potentially see its Google Play services begin appearing on Android phones being sold in the country. However, this would involve the company complying with the Chinese government’s strict censorship laws; something that Google has previously said it would never do.
The internet giant had pulled out of China following a series of cyberattacks that targeted several western targets and was attributed to the People’s Liberation Army; which is the official name of the Chinese military. Google had originally promised to run its search engine and services out of the country without censorship, although that lead to a disagreement with the government and ended with Google closing its Chinese office and pulling out of the country.
More importantly, it also lead to a fork in the Android operating system that left out the crucial Google Play services. It looks like Google wants to take control of the Android OS once again, which will require it to return to China and bring Play with it. China is a massive market for mobile, and Google is currently not benefiting from any of it due to its current policy.
Google also wants to help international app developers to bring their work into China, and expose Chinese developers to the rest of the world. However, the company would also “follow local laws and block apps that the government deems objectionable”. There is no word on how this would affect other Google services like Gmail and search, which are closely integrated with Play services and Android.
The report indicates that Google could be making the move back to China as early as this fall. How the Chinese market will respond to the return of Google Play is unknown. Thus far, Chinese smartphone manufacturers have been doing well using forked versions of the OS without the addition of Google service.
[Source: Ars Technica]