There may finally be a plan in place to bring Google Play Services to China.
According to a report by Chinese site Tech.Sina, which was mirrored by U.S. publications, Lenovo’s Senior Vice President of Mobile Chen Xudong Liu says this will happen at some point in 2016.
There weren’t further details beyond that, but there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence that adds up here. Google has made inroads with a couple of key Chinese companies: Lenovo and Huawei. Lenovo just teamed up with Google for the first Project Tango smartphone, which is due this summer, and Google’s current flagship Nexus 6P is made by Huawei.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard Google inching closer to getting its services in China. By building relationships with Chinese handset makers, Google certainly hopes they’ll come to want the company’s apps and services on their devices.
There’s also some interplay here with the Chinese government, which in the past has tangled with Google over censorship rules. But it looks now like Google is willing to do just about whatever it takes to gain a foothold in the world’s most populous country.
Why this matters: Google Play Services form the backbone for how Google gets its APIs to developers and supports its own applications, like Chrome, Gmail, Drive, Maps, and others. Currently there are a ton of Android phones in China that are instead supported by third-party app stores and run custom software from the manufacturers. Google doesn’t get any money or valuable data from all those renegade Android phones, which is a situation it desperately wants to change.