Google to let Chinese developers sell Google Play apps outside the country

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is making a tentative move back to the Chinese mobile market by allowing Chinese developers to develop and sell apps through its Google Play application and media store outside of China.

The new rules from Google will let Chinese developers create and sell Android apps in more than 130 countries around the world. During the past year Google has added 60 countries where app developers can sign up to be merchants on Google Play, including Lebanon, Jordan, Oman, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, Qatar and Venezuela.

Under the new rules, Chinese developers can now offer both free and paid applications through various monetization models, including in-app purchasing and subscriptions. Chinese developers can get paid in their Chinese bank accounts via wire transfers in U.S. dollars.

Despite the change, Chinese consumers still will not be able to access Google services on Android devices in China, including the Play store. Google shut down its China search engine and moved it to Hong Kong in 2010 due to censorship concerns.

Nonetheless, the move indicates Google continues to remain interested in the Chinese market, the world's largest smartphone market. Google declined to comment on whether it plans to expand operations in the country, according to the WSJ.

The development also comes after The Information reported that, according to unnamed sources, Google plans to launch a version of its Google Play store in China, which would be a much more significant development. The search giant would do so in a bid to gain greater control over the services running on Android phones in China. Around half of the Android smartphones sold in China are certified by Google and the other half use the open-source version of Android, which Google is trying to push back against, according to ABI Research data cited by The Information.

If Google did launch a Google Play store in China, the search giant would face stiff competition from the likes of Qihoo 360, Baidu, Tencent Holdings and Wandoujia, which have all set up third-party Android app stores in the country. Google declined to comment on whether it would launch an app store in China, the report said.

For more:
- see this Google blog post
- see this NYT article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this The Information article (sub. req.)

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