[Update: Xiaomi’s Statement] Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, and Huawei are reportedly teaming up to provide a Google Play Store alternative
Chinese smartphone brands have become a gigantic phenomenon in recent years. Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, and Huawei are now some of the biggest smartphone brands in terms of raw shipments and sales, with all four brands accounting for over 40% of all smartphone shipments globally. And their presence in the Asian, European, and South American continents have risen to all-time highs. But these companies are, for the most part, forced to bend the knee to Google whenever possible as the Google Play Store and Google Mobile Services are essential parts of the Android experience. It seems, however, that these brands are now seeking some independence from Google as they are working together on an “app store alliance” of sorts.
Reuters’ report on this matter talks about a “Global Developer Service Alliance” or GDSA, where developers will be able to upload an app simultaneously on these brands’ respective app stores. While the report doesn’t immediately talk about a single Play Store alternative, all 4 app stores having the same content and backend would essentially make them the same app store. These 4 brands already have their own app stores up and running, as devices launched in mainland China don’t have Google Play Services, so this move would simply unify them. This move may have been fueled by Huawei’s US sanctions: the company is banned from doing business with US companies and therefore they can’t use Google services at all, forcing them to seek alternatives.,
As we said before, all of these companies are huge by their own right, so having them join forces could potentially mean trouble for Google’s grip on Android in overseas markets. Oppo and Vivo are both owned by BBK Electronics, which also owns OnePlus and Realme–the report doesn’t say whether these 2 brands would be joining the alliance, with OnePlus strengthening their US carrier presence and Realme putting heat under Xiaomi’s feet in India.
Update: Xiaomi’s Statement
“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.”
The important message here is that Xiaomi and others are not trying to “compete” with the Google Play Store. The goal of the Global Developer Service Alliance is to make it much simpler for developers to upload apps to the bevy of app markets in China.
The current app market situation in China is very fragmented. Since there is no Play Store, nearly every OEM and major company maintains its own app market. This makes it very difficult for non-Chinese developers to understand the market and get their apps to millions of potential users. Many apps never get an official release in these Chinese app markets, leading to piracy and no revenue for the owners.
The Global Developer Service Alliance would make it so non-Chinese developers only have two app markets to worry about: the Play Store and this new initiative.