China’s smartphone giants reportedly unite to challenge Google’s Play Store

Photo by Sam Byford / The Verge

Huawei, Xiaomi, and BBK’s Oppo and Vivo are working together on a platform that will allow developers outside of China to upload their apps to all of the respective app stores simultaneously, Reuters reports. The manufacturers have joined together under the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA) in what appears to be an attempt to challenge the international dominance of Google’s Play Store.

Since the Google Play Store is banned in China, Android users have grown accustomed to downloading apps from a variety of different app stores, many of which are maintained by manufacturers like Huawei and Oppo. But outside of China, the Google Play Store reigns supreme, providing a convenient single location where developers can upload their software. This near-monopoly means that third-party app stores have struggled with developer support internationally, and it’s this advantage that could be challenged by the GDSA’s platform.

GDSA’s prototype website notes that its services are planned for nine countries and regions, including India, Indonesia, Russia, and Malaysia. Reuters notes that the companies are strong in different regions, such as Xiaomi in India or Huawei in Europe. But together, they control over 40 percent of worldwide smartphone shipments as of the fourth quarter of last year. The new platform would make it easier for developers to upload their apps to every store at once while ensuring some degree of parity across app stores.

The Play Store’s international dominance is a much more acute problem for Huawei, which lost its license to offer Google’s apps and services last year, including the Google Play Store. This was such a problem that Huawei decided against officially releasing its last flagship, the Mate 30, internationally. The company has also announced it’s working on its own operating system called Harmony OS, and it says it’s investing $1 billion to fund the development, user growth, and marketing of Huawei Mobile Services, its alternative to Google’s services.

The Play Store provides a significant revenue stream for Google, which takes a 30 percent cut of any sales made through the store. In total, it’s thought to have made the company around $8.8 billion worldwide last year, according to one analyst quoted by Reuters. China’s phone makers want a slice of that pie as handset sales slow globally.

Reuters reports that a March launch was planned for the new platform, but this may have been delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Comments

More competition for google would a be a good thing. How popular this will be outside of china will be interesting to follow.

Yeah, the problem is there have been other 3rd party stores, there still are but IF anyone is like me…I don’t know how legit these other stores are. I know the Play store has some insane crapware on there, some nasty apps but the Play store appears like a safe store because, well it’s Google. When I hear about other stores, even though we know what we know about the Play store, it still seems safer then anything else.

I guess what I am saying is IF there is another store that can get me my apps and they prove it is safe, safer then the Play store then I wouldnt mind switching to a phone that doesnt have play services on there. However there is that issue about companies in the west that may probably not approve business services to run on a non google play device.

I have Amazon’s app store and FDroid also installed — it’s nice that it’s an option on android.

yeah, but that’s what competition is for! First they start with people that don’t care or who don’t like play store and then they have to build trust from others and profit from it

if a person cannot discern a good app from a bad app, they ought to stick to a featurephone

I generally agree for most things – but I struggle to find a legitimate reason for competition here. Especially not this type of competition which is less about helping customers and more about owning more of their information.

Maybe they will provide free/subsidized foreign language translation services for non-english app developers. Imagine, all the chinese/indian developers who release local stuff suddenly get cheap/free english conversions of their apps/games!

Well I would agree it would be a good thing except for the part that Google Play is banned in China. If Google was actually allowed to compete against these companies it would be good and I would welcome it.

Competition would be nice but as mentioned – malware from the OEMs themselves and aspects of the nation state policies that house these central stores make this a non-starter.

If it was just about the technology, this would be awesome. This isn’t though. My take. May be wrong but won’t find me on those repo’s.

My thinking as well. I assume that if a phone does not have the Play Store, then it also does not have Play Services and the additional security hooks that it provides.

that’s why competition is good! You don’t have to support any other app store, but different people can have different views and priorities and they can compete and everybody can choose by their own preference. In the end, it pushes every company to better results

The Chinese love to imitate and duplicate…

They invite you to invest and/or cooperate, learn and steal all your techniques and secrets, then oust your company and create their own home version.

No surprise here, they do this in every industry as it pertains to big foreign companies.

Yup, this is common practice among Chinese companies. No one is saying the practices of Google paint them as saints as far as information collection goes but at least (I may swallow my own words here), they hold themselves to a higher standard (and are regularly scrutinized if they don’t) with regards to keeping the Play Store as malware and virus free as possible.

Its pretty lame to always hide behind Chinese will copy everything reasoning.

Lets be honest here, we are talking about Apps here, there a already numerous duplicate apps on PlayStore itself, and you are worry about Chinese devs copying apps? It is not Google or any of the Chinese companies desire to have Google Play store banned in China or any region in the world. The reason Play Store is banned is purely motivated by the political stances between China and US, businesses like Google and Chinese manufacturers are merely causality between politics. With this establishment, The foreign manufacturers are doing what they can to support the massive Android user market. Google is more than happy to see their Android users are still being supported, even with the US sanction. To me, it is a win situation for Google and the Android users across the world.

Its pretty lame to always hide behind Chinese will copy everything reasoning.

It’s good old fashioned racism with a dash of protectionism, all hiding behind the veneer of tech geekery.

to be fair, Google copied the app store model from Apple, after seeing their success, so it’s not that different in here.
not to say Apple didn’t ever shamelessly stole other people ideas.
As long as the company can copy AND contribute a lot of their own innovative ideas, I don’t care

That’s a gross generalization there.

Most of these phone manufacturers have actually been innovating at a faster pace than the incumbents.

A sad and utterly obvious response to the action against Huawei. Now they will diverge more consumers will suffer in both locals. And if you are buying into the spy games then the USA loses the ability to influence Google into installing whatever they want. All around a stupid missteps from the US actors.

China doing what China does: ban competition, steal intellectual property, then claim dominance.

Huawei is JUNK and they have been talking a big game about their new operating system "Huandroid" I’m sorry, they call it "Harmony OS" which they say has nothing to do with Android but all of the Android developers are being asked to come over to their harmony app store even though those same apps are banned if they are in Google play I wash my hands of this clown show

I guess they are introducing a second option to the Play Store monopoly.

But if you’re angry about what is essentially competition to the market, I think this was down to a self inflicted US/Trump regime policy.

Google must be mad.

You’re obviously uninformed and should just go back to school. Everything you claim has been done and more by the US. Ignorance sure is bliss isn’t it? Especially for a place where their politicians prioritize themselves than their ethics except for 1 truly brave hero!

Such cheap trolling.

or you can just sideload your apps, no store required

Do you heard the rumor that Google will disable sideload app in the next android version? I wonder why they would do that… /s

from the same source that says worms fly?

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