This past June, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, said that he wanted the company to properly return to the country. “We want to be in China, serving Chinese users,” he said, speaking at the Code Conference. Tsui says there have been “rumors” that Google’s Play Store may enter China (the company declined to comment). Google’s Android mobile operating system is wildly popular in China, but the company’s ability to extract revenue from that position is limited because the Play Store isn’t available.
Google’s troubled history with Beijing represents a considerable hurdle, however. “They are certainly not trusted,” says Kaiser Kuo, formerly director of international communications at the Chinese search engine Baidu and now the host of the Sinica podcast at China-focused media startup SupChina. Kuo, a well-respected voice on Chinese Internet issues, thinks Facebook’s China prospects look promising. “It’s likely that they will be in with some of their significant services within the coming year,” he says. “There is fairly high-profile engagement with high-ranking Chinese officials and ranking brass at Facebook. You can’t ignore those signals.”More in the Technology Review.
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