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Chinese smartphone manufacturers band together to beat Google’s Play store

With Google continuing to lead the global marketplace for smartphone apps, given the ubiquitousness of its Play Store, four Chinese smartphone heavyweights have banded together to create a rival to the US-company's app store.

""China’s Xiaomi, Huawei Technologies, Oppo and Vivo are joining forces to create a platform for developers outside China to upload apps onto all of their app stores simultaneously" - Reuters The platform will be known as Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA) The GDSA could help bolster a blacklisted Huawei

With Google continuing to lead the global marketplace for smartphone apps, given the ubiquitousness of its Play Store, 4 Chinese smartphone heavyweights have banded together to create a rival to the US-company’s app store.

While iOS’ App Store remains the more profitable platform, Google Play has reigned in terms of the number of downloads, according to H1 2019 data by SensorTower

“Due to an overall downturn in consumer spending on iOS apps in China, along with the lingering effects of a pause on new mobile game approvals in the country, App Store revenue grew at a modest 7.8% Y/Y during the half to $17.6 billion,” SensorTower said. “Google Play games spending grew more considerably at 16.8%, reaching $12 billion for the half.”

Now, Chinese manufacturers are set to challenge this American behemoth. 

Read: Say hello to OPPO, the Chinese rising star of the smartphone market

Move aside Google Play Store, the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA) is here

According to an exclusive report by Reuters, “China’s Xiaomi, Huawei Technologies, Oppo and Vivo are joining forces to create a platform for developers outside China to upload apps onto all of their app stores simultaneously, in a move analysts say is meant to challenge the dominance of Google’s Play Store.”

“The four companies are ironing out kinks in what is known as the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA). The platform aims to make it easier for developers of games, music, movies and other apps to market their apps in overseas markets, according to people with knowledge of the matter.”

Supposedly, the platform was supposed to be launched in March, but the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak seems to have a delayed those plans. 

Aside from Huawei, which is a global powerhouse today, the other 3 manufactures have also been ramping up production and marketing, growing significantly in recent years. 

“By forming this alliance each company will be looking to leverage the others’ advantages in different regions, with Xiaomi’s strong user base in India, Vivo and Oppo in Southeast Asia, and Huawei in Europe,” said Nicole Peng, the VP of Mobility at Canalys.

“Secondly, it’s to start to build some more negotiation power against Google,” she added.

Read: Huawei survived a tough 2019, but what about 2020?

GDSA to serve as lifeline for Huawei?Google has long been banned in China, along with other big names such as Facebook, YouTube, Netflix and even Wikipedia. This has led to the need to create local alternatives, as we see with Google substitute Baidu, the country’s largest search engine. 

While this anti-US censorship problem does not exist in all East Asian countries, the fact that it does in China is still a major issue, given the size of its economy, the second largest in the world (the world’s largest, by certain metrics). 

In recent years, some Chinese companies, like Huawei, have been on the receiving end of retaliatory censorship. The Trump administration put the Chinese telecom manufacturer on a blacklist, prohibiting US companies from doing business with it without a license. This has since sent ripples across the international market, affecting more than simply Huawei and China. For example, the blacklisting has hurt semiconductor firms, those that create the computer chips that power our lives.

To top that off, US President Donald Trump has reportedly been pressuring allied countries to ban Huawei from their 5G networks, as per CNBC. Huawei is one of the world’s largest players when it comes to 5G, yet Washington maintains that Huawei is a national security risk.

Another area Huawei has been hurt has been its cutting off from Android apps. As per the blacklisting, Google was to no longer deal with the Chinese firm. Huawei, however, would still have access to the Android OS, since it is open source software and available free of charge to anyone. What they’re cut off from, however, is “Google Mobile Services” (GMS) – Google’s own apps like Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps, as well as the Google Play Store. 

“GMS requires licensing from Google,” Business Insider explained.

When it released its flagship, the Mate 30, back in September of last year, Huawei had to use the open-source version of Android, substituting GMS apps with in-house offerings. Soon, however, Huawei phones will run on its in-house operating system: the HarmonyOS. This is seen as Huawei’s answer to both Trump’s ban as well as Google dominance of the OS market. 

Now, with the reveal of the GDSA, Huawei – and the other 3 companies – have more tools to combat the ban as well as Google’s presence in the market. 

Read: With or without Google, Huawei is moving forward with their own OS, maps service