Google Wants to Penetrate China’s Market Again
Five years ago, Google pulled its products out of the Chinese market due to censorship issues in the country. However, it was revealed by sources from within Google that the company wants to re-launch its services in China beginning with its Play Store.
The Chinese market is too big for any multinational technology company to ignore. Last year, Apple made about $60 billion in the Chinese market alone, which includes regions in Mainland China, Greater China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
While the intent to return to the Chinese market is a great step for Google, critics are saying that the company may have lost its footing in China. It may be too late to reintroduce its services to the region, as most of its major services like search, video streaming, and mobile applications are all being covered by different companies like Kugou and Baidu.
In addition, with iTunes’ presence in China, and a lot of sites that offer free music streaming, Google will have a difficult time penetrating the country’s music scene.
Apart from apps like Kugou, which started as a music streaming site, other apps like it have become PC-end software that act as a digital music player and download tool. Google would have to make significant add-ons to their Play Store offerings if they want to become a household name in China. Even Alibaba, which is China’s equivalent to Ebay as well as being an established eCommerce company that provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer, and business-to-business sales services, is having a hard time penetrating the music industry in China.
According to a research by the Sootoo Institute, which was published by Technode, Alibaba’s Xiaomi only has a 1.01% following of China’s music streaming and download app market as of 2014. Kugou, TTPOD, Kuwo, QQ Music, and Duomi are the top 5 music app/downloading services in the country right now.
“There are a substantial number of free ways people get music in China that makes it difficult for any service, especially from the West, to get into the market,” said the Chief Executive Officer of Google, Sundar Pichai.
The mobile market is one of the biggest tech markets right now with Gaming Realms, a software developer that creates online games, implies that the boom in the industry is thanks to the massive shift from PC to mobile. With more and more people depending on their smartgadgets, multiple Chinese developers have created their own local app market, which are hurdles that Google also need to overcome if the company wants to be successful in appealing to consumers.
“If they want to break the ice with the Chinese market then they have to pick a pretty important product to make available to the Chinese people and make it really localized,” said Shen Si, a former employee of Google who started her very own mobile games company. “Google Play would be a really good product for that because it’s not very sensitive.”
Tech experts agree that Google Play is a safer bet than the company’s flagship Search or Gmail because the app store can be customized to appeal to China’s locals.
However, others are skeptical about Google’s move, which is to integrate Play Store first without its original product: search. After all, Google cannot introduce its products meaningfully without the backing of its very own search engine.
“How do you use YouTube without search?” said Rob Enderle, a tech analyst. “Everything they’ve got hinges on search. In the end, if they can’t get search in everything, it is going to be even more crippled than it already is.”