East versus West – China’s tech giants to challenge Google Play Store

China’s largest tech companies – Huawei, Xiaomi and BBK’s Oppo and Vivo – are working together to create a platform called the Global Developer’s Service Alliance (GDSA) that will allow developers outside of China to upload apps to their respective app stores simultaneously, according to a report by Reuters.

A cursory glance at the GDSA site shows no Huawei branding, despite the embattled company listed as a member by various media publications. A quote from the Reuters report says: “A Xiaomi spokesman said the alliance was not intended to challenge Google and denied Huawei’s involvement with it, but Oppo and Vivo made no mention of Huawei in their statements.”

Google’s Play Store is banned in China which forced the creation of local Chinese alternatives to the popular apps and service found on Google’s app platform, however, Android users outside of China are used to downloading everything from the Play Store on their devices. This distribution monopoly means that Android app developers who are successful in the west have struggled to get their apps onto popular phone brands in China.

According to Android Authority, the Terms of Service page provides more information as to how the GDSA will achieve this: “The GDSA platform provides unified access to multiple mobile phone manufacturers’ stores. Developers can submit applications (including Android free-to-install applications, games, music, movies, books, magazines, or other digital content or services through the registration platform), which can be synchronized to multiple mobile phone manufacturers’ app stores that have already cooperated.”

GDSA’s website also notes that their services will be rolled out to nine countries including India, Indonesia, Russia, Malaysia, Spain, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam. These countries are a combination of strong performing regions for various of the GDSA founders, namely Xiaomi’s strong performance in India and Huawei’s strong performance in Europe.

Huawei stands to gain the most from this alliance as last year it lost the licence to provide new devices with Google Mobile Services and has instead had to rely on EMUI and Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) running on top of Android Open Source Project (AOSP). The company has in recent months, publically announced $1 billion to fund the growth and development of its own Harmony OS as an alternative to Google Mobile Services.

Could the wider adoption of HMS by Chinese smartphone manufacturers be next on the cards as they face an uncertain future in the west thanks to Donald Trump’s government?