In November 2015, Google was reported to launch the Google Play store in China before 2016 ends, however that didn't happen reasons unknown. Now, a fresh report brings back hope stating that Google is partnering with NetEase to launch Google Play in China, a partnership that will help it overcome shortcomings of the tight rules and regulations of the insular country.
The Information reports that the company is looking to enter China with help from NetEase. However, the report provides little detail apart from this partnership. There's no clarity on a tangible timeline, process, and accessibility. Given China's regulations, Google Play will be heavily censored in the country, whenever it launches. Recently, China's Cyberspace Administration made it mandatory to register app stores with the state to tighten control over the Internet.
China's second largest operator of online games NetEase has approached Google for a partnership in bringing the Google Play store back to China. The company is known for partnering with western companies to enable their entry into China, and Minecraft is one notable case in point.
Google pulled its services out of China five years ago after refusing to continue self-censoring its search results. It has maintained a limited presence in the world's biggest smartphone market, but most of its services, including Google Play, have been rendered borderline inaccessible.
But China is too big a market for Google to ignore. However, search is still Google's biggest strength and introducing that in the largest market in the world, will be the real challenge. In any case, this partnership with NetEase is baby steps on Google's part to rebuild its presence in China.