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Tech Giant Google Courts Major Partners Like Mobvoi Inc For Possible Integration In China

China may have blocked Google’s search engine operations in the country, but inside the heart of Beijing lies an internet giant that relies on Google’s software heavily.

The Expansion Plan

China’s famous smartwatch maker Mobvoi Inc relies heavily on Google’s software to power its flagship watches and smart speakers. The company’s engineers build apps using Google’s free and open-source development tools for artificial intelligence also known as TensorFlow.

Mobvoi’s sales team also earns money by promoting Google ads to targeted users outside mainland China. Aside from that, Google also serves as a minor investor for the said startup company.

According to Mobvoi’s chief executive, Zhifei Li, Google is not just a software but it’s an ecosystem that plays a vital role to their company’s success.

Mr. Li’s company is just one of Google’s major partners they’ve courted in the past few years as they attempt to keep a foothold in China. Google’s 0.76% stock price unit in China plummeted eight years ago as the company protested against the government for hacking and censorship.

This caused the government to block its core services like the search engine, Gmail, and Youtube across the country. However, Google still provides tools and development support for advertisers, app developers, and manufacturers to help them thrive in their businesses and reach global customers.

The Dragonfly Project

According to inside sources, Google’s allies may play a crucial part in the company’s success to infiltrate and expand in China. Also known as the Dragonfly Project, Google is currently developing and testing a mobile version of its search engine to comply with China’s strict guidelines and censorship.

Once the test has been successful, Google’s allies will enter the scene to present how the company’s tools and services contribute to their businesses’ success and productivity, which, in turn, contributes to the country’s economic growth.

Google’s Dragonfly Project is in contrast to Facebook which also expressed its interest to infiltrate the Chinese market, but all their efforts went futile so far.

Google believes collaborating with local players will help woo the Chinese government to consider unblocking Google’s services.

According to the managing director of Beijing-based research company Marbirdge Consulting, Mark Natkin, the Chinese government wants to support all domestic champions and businesses which contribute to the country’s growth, so it’s possible that Google may touch the authorities’ soft spots this time.

Furthermore, Google’s existing relationships with Chinese businesses could also help provide additional services like business apps, cloud hosting, and customer services apps.

The Backlash

Despite Google’s efforts to regain a strong foothold in the Asian country, many of its loyal customers and investors doubt the success of the said plan. According to them, there’s no guarantee that China will unblock the said modified mobile engine, even if it’s designed to abide by Chinese’ censorship guidelines.

China has this reputation of blocking American tech giants from entering the market in favor of its homegrown rivals. Aside from that, Google receives a backlash from six U.S. senators who criticize the said project.

Ever since Sundar Pichai became Google’s chief executive three years ago, Pichai has been visiting the region to meet with top Chinese officials to encourage businesses in using Google’s free open-source tools like Android and TensorFlow.

Aside from that, Google has invested around $550 million in China this year for a 1% stake in various local online businesses like JD.com, Chushou and Manbang Group. Google has also been engaging in talks with Tencent Holdings Ltd for more than a year to offer their cloud-hosting services in China.

According to the proposal, Google will sell its hosting services and software that would run on a data center owned by a local Chinese company. However, the status of the talks remains unclear according to Bloomberg. Neither company has commented on the said issue. Meanwhile, Mr. Pichai said that its open-source software like Android helped companies like Xiaomi Corp to create their own innovative Chinese smartphones.

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