Google is reportedly looking to re-introduce its Play Store along with other services in China, a new report from Reuters suggests, citing unnamed sources familiar with the plan. The search giant's official app repository in the Chinese mainland will supposedly be different than its international counterparts.
This move would be a major one for Google after it pulled out its Play Store and Search services from the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 2010. The company's decision to withdraw from the Asian country was made following its refusal to comply with the government's mandate to filter or self-censor its search results.
Reuters indicated that Google's return to China might take place after next year's Chinese New Year celebrations but before early summer. Google employees in the country have reportedly been working hard to make the Play Store's launch possible. The company apparently intends to use the app service as a stepping stone to release its other offerings including Gmail and Google Maps.
One interesting area that the report pointed out is that the Google Play version that will operate in China would be designed particularly for Chinese users and would not be connected to any other international version. A line from the Reuters report reads, "Google intends to comply with Chinese laws on filtering content that might be viewed as sensitive by the ruling Communist Party, and laws requiring the company to store the app store's data within China."
Along with the apparent language customization, the Chinese Play Store would also be hosted completely within the country, in contrast to other "regular" Play store servers. Google plans for this version to comply entirely with Chinese filtering laws, which would require "sensitive" terms to be blocked.
When it comes to the actual approval from the PRC government, Reuters explains that Google would not need explicit approval to launch the app store as they only need to comply with existing laws, something that the company declined to agree with five years ago.
Before this, some progress was already made last year when the tech giant allowed software developers from China to publish applications onto the Play Store. In November 2015, an announcement from Google's official Android blog read, "We're excited to announce merchant support in China, enabling local developers to export and sell their apps to Google Play users."
Major companies in the tech industry see the important role that China has been playing especially in the lucrative smartphone market. For example, Apple made a massive $58.7 billion from China last fiscal year, all while complying with the Asian nation's stringent laws.