Since Google launched the Play Store in 2008, the company has had something of a monopoly over where Android users head to download apps.
If you’re not using an Apple device, it’s highly likely that Google’s app store is the only one you’re using.
However, that could be about to change, with Reuters reporting that major Chinese smartphone manufacturers are working together to create what looks like an alternative to Google’s apps.
Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo are among the major players who are collaborating on what is being described as ‘a platform for developers outside China to upload apps to multiple stores simultaneously’. In other words, when you upload an app to Huawei’s App Gallery, it would also appear on Xiaomi’s Mi Store, Oppo’s App Market and Vivo’s App Store within seconds.
This will be known as the Global Developer Server Alliance (GSDA), and was scheduled to launch in March, although it is unclear whether this will be delayed as a result of the effects of the coronavirus.
When it arrives, it is hoped that the GSDA will remove much of the hassle that will developers reluctant to work with each company individually.
Xiaomi has since clarified what the moves will mean, insisting that there is no competing interest with Google, but that is hard to believe.
This collaboration is the latest in a series of decisions taken by Chinese companies in the wake of Huawei’s US trade ban in 2019.
While it has able to source its internals from elsewhere, the inability to work directly with Google has undoubtedly had the most profound effect on its chances of success.
As open-source software, Android is available to any to any manufacturer to use on its devices, but this comes with the crucial omission of Google Play services. These are so intrinsic to Android devices in Western markets that phones without them have limited success.
The Mate 30 Pro was severely hampered as a result of becoming the first Huawei flagship to ship without Google Play services.There remains a workaround, but many people without expertise may be unwilling to tamper with the software of their device.
Developers are slowly moving to make their apps on these individual app stores, but they all have a far more limited selection than the Google Play Store. It is hoped that this move will accelerate that process and Huawei and other Chinese phones just as attractive as they once were.