According to insider news, Google Play will be introduced in China this March with a specially-designed local version. The app store will be pre-loaded on its Nexus phone, which is also due to hit the Chinese market soon.
Based on the leak, existing international Google Play accounts will not be usable on the Chinese version. Also, Paypal will not be available for in-app purchases on the China version; instead, transactions will be conducted via Alibaba-backed Alipay, which also happens to be the most popular online payment tool in China.
Rumors that Google will restore its services in China have been circulating in the Chinese tech circle for a while. Recent activities such as its partnership with Chinese IT giant Lenovo were seen as a sign of its return. The search engine magnate co-launched a smartphone with Lenovo in early January, a sign that it is seeking partners in the Chinese market.
A recent recruitment notice for a Google China office also thrilled enthusiasts. The notice indicated that Google will hire more than 60 new recruits in China in 2016. Though Google later clarified that this number is the same as its recruitment in China in the past three years, observers still regarded this as a positive sign of its resurrection.
The company is also reported to have registered a shell company named Pengji in China’s Shanghai Free Trade Zone at the end of 2014.
Google halted its web search service in China in 2010, leaving only a few applications still operating in the region. It currently has ‘several hundreds of employees’ in the Greater China area including Hong Kong and Taiwan, according to its latest announcement. The constant stream of news leaks suggest it won’t be long before Google’s revival in the Chinese market.