Google has announced merchant support for Play Store app developers in China, allowing Chinese developers to export to, and sell their apps on, Google Play.
While the move opens up a market of more than 130 countries within which Chinese developers will now be able to sell their apps — including Zimbabwe, Turkmenistan, Russia, and Cambodia — mainland China is still not one of those markets.
Hong Kong remains the only part of China from which Chinese citizens can lawfully purchase apps through the Google App Store. Taiwan also has access.
The internet giant has expanded its list of countries in which app developers can sign up to be merchants on Google Play. Of the 60 countries now in the Google Play fold, some of the recent additions include Lebanon, Jordan, Oman, Pakistan, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.
"Chinese developers can now offer both free and paid applications through various monetisation models, including in-app purchasing and subscriptions," said Google product manager for Google Play Ellie Powers in a blog post. "For revenue generated on Google Play, developers will receive payment to their Chinese bank accounts via USD wire transfers."
If Chinese developers want to sell apps and in-app products, they will need to sign up for a Google Wallet merchant account, according to the company. Until now, Chinese developers have had to sell their apps on third-party app stores, or from an overseas-registered Google developer account.
Chinese third-party app stores are commonly viewed with a certain amount of suspicion by digital security companies. Research carried out this year by online security firm F-Secure suggesting that most of the android apps exposing Australians to smartphone malware have been downloaded from Chinese-hosted third-party app stores.
However, Google is considering introducing a version of its Play Store to China as it works to rebuild its footprint in the country, after relocating its search engine and other services outside the country in 2010, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.
The report suggested that Google is eager to get back into China, the world's largest smartphone market by shipments, in part to recoup profits in the region from its Android apps that are currently being lost to third-party vendors.