Google has announced that developers based in China can now make money from apps listed on the Google Play Store. The update covers 130 international markets but not China itself, however.
Nonetheless, the move will give Chinese developers exposure to the hundreds of millions of Android devices on the planet, opening up opportunities to make money via in-app purchases or subscriptions within free applications, and by selling paid-for apps too.
Google said that China-based developers can receive payment direct to Chinese bank accounts, although the revenue will be wired across in US dollars.
As it stands, Android developers in China can make money from their apps, but they need to use third-party app stores (which are popular in China since Google’s app store is not pre-loaded on Android devices in China), or an overseas-registered Google developer account.
This move will open things up a lot more. As Facebook and Twitter have both found with sales efforts in China, the country’s tech community has an interest in leveraging large global networks to reach customers and users overseas, even for services that are blocked or unavailable in Mainland China.
Today’s news follows a report from The Information (paywalled) which claims that Google executives are in discussions with potential partners and the Chinese government with a view to launching Google Play services in Mainland China.
Google declined to comment when we asked about the allegations, but any such move would represent a remarkable about turn for the company, which relocated its search engine and other services outside of the country in 2010.
China is the world’s largest smartphone market based on shipment volumes, which means Google is losing out on potential revenue from millions of smartphones and tablets that don’t have access to its services and app store. Even if it did make a spectacular late arrival, China’s smartphone ecosystem is highly evolved and that means plenty of competition.