Google's Play Store may finally return to China in 2016

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After leaving in 2010, Google wants to come back to China. According to Reuters’ sources, the search giant is looking to launch the Google Play Store sometime after the Chinese New Year in 2016. The app store would not be connected to the overseas version, and Google plans to comply with China’s laws on filtering content.

The Play Store’s app data will also be stored in the country, which is a requirement in China.

Google’s return, which we first got wind of in June, would mark an important step in the company’s quest to capture the Chinese market. It left in 2010, as the company refused to continue self-censoring its search results. However, Google now faces stiff competition. With search alone — which is Google’s core service — 70 percent of the market share is controlled by Chinese Web services company Baidu.

While Android is the most popular mobile OS in China, hardly any of the handsets have the Google Play Store installed. Companies like Oppo, Xiaomi, and Huawei are heavily invested in the market, and with Apple gaining ground in China, Google sure doesn’t want to lag behind.

Google employees have been working hard in China to make the Play Store’s launch happen, according to Reuters. The company wants to use the Play Store as a launch pad to bring its other services, such as Gmail and Google Maps, into the country.

It’s clear that Google is readying its return to China with an investment into Mobvoi, a company specializing in mobile voice technology. The two have ties already, as Google picked the company to bring its Android Wear operating system to China.

There has been no official confirmation from Google, but we’ll keep you updated here.