Top three challenges Google Play may face entering China

Mochou Lee

Google is rumored to be planning a return to China with reports suggesting Google will introduce a Chinese version of Google’s content platform “Google Play.” Analysts say Google will face great challenges, as major local players already have the lead in the Chinese market.

In addition to the Chinese search engine, Baidu, laying claim to being the second largest recipient of advertising revenue, China has become the second biggest search advertising market, only behind America, with its market topping out USD 14.9 billion. The U.S. based eMarketer, reports that 2015 will see a 32.8% increase in the Chinese search advertising market, almost double the growth rate seen globally.

Facing such broad potential, Google will consolidate its dominant global position if it can manage to occupy a part of the Chinese market.

Google Play, earlier referred to as Android Market, is a digital distribution platform operated by Google. It serves as the official app store for the Android operating system, allowing users to browse and download applications developed with the Android SDK and published through Google, similar to what Apple provides with the App Store on its iOS system.

Analysts say that while the expected return of Google will likely be embraced by regular users, fans and developers, it may come at the expense of smartphone producers and local app stores, industrial blog Zhongguancun online reports.

I. The market is divided

It will not be easy for Google Play to enter the Chinese market given the overall market is slowing down and limited download channels are already occupied by several app-download platforms. Baidu Mobile Assistant, Tencent App Store, 360 Mobile Assistant and Wandoujia all have enjoyed a head start due to Google departing from the Chinese market back in 2009.

II. Challenges stemming from smartphone makers

Google Play faces embedded challenges from smartphone makers who benefit from deep integration between their software products and hardware, making it difficult for third-party application stores to entice users to alternative platforms.

Smartphone manufacturers, who have launched optimized operating systems, are unlikely to be willing to distribute Google services including Google Play, unless obliged to as a part of some, as yet unseen, new condition of using Android.

III. Personalized services are key

Google’s main rivals in China, Baidu Mobile Assistant and Tencent App Store, are trying to providing users with personalized services like categorizing apps into different columns and recommending certain apps based on an analysis of user behavior.

Not only for Google Play, but for all those seeking success in China’s competitive software marketplace, cultivating strong relationships and collaborating with app developers is a necessity. By providing enough user traffic, technology and resources, developers will be able to sell their own wares successfully and importantly, will be more likely to stay loyal.

(Top photo: Screenshot from Google Play)

Edited by Rohan Malhotra

Mochou Lee is a guest writer at AllChinaTech.

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