Google Play merchant support has arrived in China, Google announced today. As a result, local Android developers can now export and sell their apps to Google Play users in more than 130 countries (but not in China itself, since the actual Google Play store still isn’t available there).
Chinese developers can now offer both free and paid applications through various monetization models available on Google Play, including in-app purchasing and subscriptions. Google says revenue generated on Google Play will be deposited directly into developers’ Chinese bank accounts via USD wire transfers.
If you build Android apps in China, all you have to do is visit play.google.com/apps/publish and register as a developer. If you want to sell apps and in-app products, as opposed to simply distributing free apps, you’ll need to also sign up for a Google Wallet merchant account (available on the “Revenue” page in the Google Play Developer Console).
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After signing up, you can upload your apps and set prices in the Developer Console. Google will then start sending you revenue reports. More details are available in Chinese on the developer help center.
It’s important to note that today’s news doesn’t mean Google is launching the Google Play Store app in the country. In other words, Android users in China still have to rely on third-party app stores such as Qihoo 360, Tencent, Wandoujia, and multiple app stores owned by Google rival Baidu. These stores have flourished because Google Play does not come preloaded on Android devices in China, unlike in most countries across the world.
The arrival of merchant support follows a report from The Information earlier today, which said Google is in discussions with the Chinese government and potential carrier partners to launch the Google Play app store in China. That may not be happening today, but it’s not out of the question.
China is a massive market for any tech company, but for Google it is particularly enticing. The country is estimated to account for roughly half of the more than 1 billion Android users across the globe.
In 2010, Google shut down Google.cn over hacking allegations against the Chinese government. The American company chose to cut ties rather than continue censoring its search results in the country.
Google still maintains R&D and ad sales offices in China, however, and today’s launch could be a first step to test the waters with Google Play. A broader rollout for Chinese Android users in general could follow next year, and with the Chinese government’s blessing, other Google services may roll out as well.
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