This week has seen a flurry of developments about Google planning to return to the Chinese market with an AI-powered news app, followed by a self-censoring Search service. The company’s ambitions also reportedly extend to bringing G Suite to China via partnerships with local cloud companies.
According to Bloomberg, Google has been in discussion with Tencent and two other Chinese cloud hosting providers since early 2018. Those rented servers and compute power would be used by Google to offer Gmail, Drive, Calendar, and more to local users in the country.
Chinese laws dictate that all customer cloud data be geographically located in the country. Rather than build out its own data centers, Google would reportedly adopt a partnership model to run the apps and host Chinese user data.
A local partnership with the likes of Tencent or Inspur would help Google return to the country, and provides high-profile allies for the company to win government approval. Earlier this year, Google announced a seperate partnership with WeChat’s Tencent on patents, as well as a promise to cooperate on future technology.
The Bloomberg report speculates that Tencent could encourage its existing cloud customers to use Google services, while any deal would help both companies compete with local cloud giant Alibaba.
Bringing G Suite to China would be a huge step forward for Google Cloud as it tries to compete with the likes of Microsoft in the productivity space around the world.
Like with the Dragonfly news and Search project, the current status of these efforts are in flux given the U.S.-China trade war. Google in March reportedly trimmed down possible candidates for the cloud partnership to three vendors.