Google is ramping up its efforts to gain more strategic size in China, the world’s biggest smartphone market.
On Thursday, in a strategic step aimed at increasing its footprint in China, Alphabet Inc’s Google Inc launched a file management tool in several Chinese app stores.
The Chinese market, the biggest smartphone market in the world, has so far been a tough proposition for Google, where its top products have been banned. Google shares a common experience with foreign firms of facing a tough work environment in China.
Google’s file management tool is a China-specific version of a storage management tool for smartphones.
Google’s flagship search and app store products have a small user base in China, compared to third-party Chinese app stores, including those from its Chinese rivals such as Xiaomi Technologies, Baidu Inc and Huawei Culture Co Ltd.
In 2010, Google Map, which is used by consumers the world over, was banned in China after Google refused to censor results in line with local laws.
Foreign firms have faced significant headwinds in China stemming from its authoritarian approach to every aspect of business.
Google’s search engine is banned in China, along with its app store, email and cloud storage services.
According to Chinese regulators, restrictions on foreign internet platforms and foreign media, are designed such that they do not influence the Communist Party’s socialist agenda and grip on power.
In recent years, Google has been trying to expand its operations in China, and has even launched a dedicated artificial intelligence research hub in Beijing; in return China has provided only increased regulations and tightening censorship laws.
Google has however remained persistent in its efforts. If recent visits by, Sundar Pichai, its CEO, are of any indications, Google has ramped up its efforts to increase it foothold in China. During his several visits in December 2017, Pichai spokes at two Chinese government forums.
Its ‘Files Go’ app, aimed at helping users free up storage space, has been developed by Google’s Next Billion program that has India and Indonesia as key markets.
Incidentally, although Google’s consumer services are blocked in China, its Android operating system has a solid foothold, with top Chinese smartphone vendors, including Huawei and Xiaomi using its OS across their devices.