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In the midst of its struggles with a ban from the US government, Huawei has been working on alternatives to the Play Store. Now, a report from Reuters is shedding light on plans from Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo to create a Play Store competitor of sorts.

As it stands today, the Google Play Store can’t be used in China along with other Google applications and services. This has left Android devices sold in China without the Play Store, using APKs and other methods of distribution such as proprietary app stores to allow users to install applications.

Reuters reports that four Android giants in China – Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo – are preparing a competitor for the Google Play Store. However, this wouldn’t take the form of a single store, but would rather be a developer platform that strengthens the respective app stores of all four brands.

Apparently, this new platform would allow Android developers to upload their apps once and have them published in all four app stores. The Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA) will apparently launch in March – though could be delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak – and would also support music, movies, and games.

Update 2/7: In a statement be given to members of the press (via AA), Xiaomi clarifies that the GDSA exists “solely” to allow developers to upload their apps to the respective app stores of Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo. Oddly, there’s no mention of Huawei here, implying that the company may not be involved after all. Xiaomi says there is “no interest” in competing with the Play Store.

The Global Developer Service Alliance solely serves to facilitate the uploading of apps by developers to respective app stores of Xiaomi, OPPO and Vivo simultaneously. There’s no competing interest between this service and Google Play Store.

Once launched, this platform would apparently cover 9 different countries including China, India, Indonesia, and Russia. Nicole Peng, the VP of Mobility at Canalys, said the following regarding this new platform:

By forming this alliance each company will be looking to leverage the others’ advantages in different regions, with Xiaomi’s strong user base in India, Vivo and Oppo in Southeast Asia, and Huawei in Europe. Secondly, it’s to start to build some more negotiation power against Google.

The execution is difficult as its hard to say which company is pulling more weight and investing more in it. We haven’t seen the alliance model work well in the past.

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Ben Schoon

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