Google Inc. is in talks with Chinese government officials and handset makers about launching a new Android app store in mainland China, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing unnamed sources.
It is an attempt by the internet giant to make a comeback to what has become the world’s biggest smartphone market.
For more than a year, Google has been working on a version of its Play app store that includes only apps and services approved by the Chinese government, the report said.
This app store would come installed on new smartphones made for the Chinese market that run on the Android operating system licensed to them by Google.
The firm abruptly ceased most operations in mainland China in 2010 following cyberattacks against Gmail users and disagreements with the government over censorship of search results.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin was among the most outspoken critics of China’s government in 2010.
But Brin recently stepped back from day-to-day operations.
Last year, Sundar Pichai, who will become Google’s chief executive later this year, said the company was “committed to serving the [Chinese] market the best we can”.
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