Google is Quietly Formulating a New Strategy For China

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Google is slowly developing a strategy for China so that it will not miss out on the growth of technology in the world’s largest country. Evidence of these plans has come via a product launch. Files Go, a file manager for android devices has made its ways to China. This launch provides insight into how Google may be thinking about the country, where it has been absent since 2010.

Google is taking a partner-led approach to distribute Files Go because the Google Play Store does not operate in China. It is working with Tencent, Huawei, Xiaomi and Baidu,  each of which will stock the app in their independent app stores, which are the country’s most prominent third-party stores. Quite surprising, the creator of Android  is using third-party Android app stores to distribute one of its products.

The U.S. and China are currently in an ongoing trade standoff that is extended to tech, impacting deals. Chinese president Xi Ping has taken an approach to protect and promote local business and industries particularly AI. Xi’s more controversial policies, including the banning of VPNs, stands accused of colluding with authorities and preventing free speech in China.

A full return of Google to China is a tough challenge, even when you remove the political issues. China is a highly competitive market, where Google has a very little brand recognition therefore it has to start things from scratch. Google seems intent at building relationships and growing a local presence that allows its global business to tap into the talent and technology that China offers.

The latest example is the Files Go, but the previous launches were Translate app in 2017 and more recently its ARCore technology for augmented and virtual reality to China using partners, which include Xiaomi and Huawei. Google is cultivating relationships, beyond products.

Google inked a patent deal with China’s 500 billion tech giant, Tencent which operates WeChat and more, and has made strategic investments to back AI startup XtalPi, live-streaming platform Chushou, and AI and hardware company Mobvoi. 

In addition to making friends, Google is also increasing its own presence on Chinese soil. It opened an AI lab in Beijing to help access China-based talent. This new strategy of Google is in budding state and is a good time to keep a watch on Google’s moves.