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Is Google’s sneak back into China working?

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In December 2017, we reported that “Google had ‘tiptoed’ back into China,” as the internet giant took a new tack and opened a small artificial intelligence (AI) research center in Beijing. Of course, Google never really left China: Google ad sales teams have worked in the country nonstop since 2010, when the company withdrew its search feature from the market.

Today brings news of Google’s next move in the Chinese market: a Chinese version of Files Go (文件极客 wénjiàn jíkè; literally “file geek”), an Android app that helps users organize their files. TechCrunch reports that Google is “working with Tencent, Huawei, Xiaomi and Baidu, each of which will stock the app in their independent app stores,” indicating the extent to which Google seems to be winning favor with Chinese industry and government leaders.

In the past year, Google has steadily increased its presence in China quite a bit:

  • Google Translate has become a top reference app in the Chinese App Store for iPhones, beating out even local competitor Baidu Translate, Abacus reports.
  • Google Translate got “nearly 1.8 million” downloads in China in the past quarter, twice that of a year ago when it was reintroduced to the market, according to U.S. research firm Sensor Tower.
  • Snapseed, a photo editor from Google, also “reportedly had around 1.68 million App Store downloads in China last quarter,” Abacus says.
  • Google’s augmented and virtual reality technologies were enabled on Xiaomi smartphone devices just this week, the company announced on Twitter, teasing that there are “more partners coming soon.”
  • And Google has made strategic investments this year in U.S.-China biotech startup XtalPi and game-streaming platform Chushou, TechCrunch reports.
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Lucas Niewenhuis

Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.

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