We all knew that Google was not available in China (except by bypassing the local censorship - by using a software or more commonly called a VPN).
But, it is starting to change… Indeed, since a few days, the Google Translate APP is from now on available in China and its users do not need to use a VPN to have access to it. Moreover, you can also use the lens of your camera (option from the APP) to instantly translate a text.
What was the previous/actual situation of Google in China?
As you know, that has been around seven years (2010) that Google left the Chinese market. They shut down their Chinese search engine and gave up a huge market. So at the moment, Google is still not available in China but it starts to change step by step. As you can see, the Google Translate APP is now available in China. Google has unblocked its APP and it seems they want to get again access to the Chinese market. That is the first time since they left China that they revived a service for the Chinese users.
Why did they leave China?
In 2010 Google decided to not follow the government request which was to filter its research results to match with the censorship imposed in China. By not following the request, Google directed all its Chinese traffic to an uncensored version, the Hong Kong search engine but that move left them totally vulnerable to the possibility of being totally blocked in China. A few months later that is what happened to Google in China. They were not accessible anymore.
What are the features of this Google Translate APP?
It seems that the Google Translate APP is less sensitive than other Google services such as the search engine. That is why it was possible to unblocked it in China. It was possible because this APP does not offer any search function and the users do not have to set up an account to collect data from them.
How to download the Google Translate APP?
Google Play is still blocked in China, you will not be able to download the Google Translate APP through it (except if you use a VPN). The other ways to download it are the Chinese APP Store for the iOS version and you can download the Android one through here.
What will be the future of the Google Translate APP?
The purpose of the Google Translate APP is, according to Google, that they wanted to make it better for the Chinese users and also connect people around the world. The Google’s joint venture in China will manage the APP and will be subject to any government-issued requests or censorship.
What could be the future for Google?
As already said, by making the Google Translate APP available in China, Google proved that they want to regain the Chinese market. Moreover, by making the APP available in China, it is sure they are not going to earn money directly from it but it will be a good way to get more visibility for a long term objective which could be the introduction of Chinese version of other Google’s APPs or services. And who knows, maybe the beginning of the introduction of Google Play in China.
Although, there is no confirmation from Google for these possibilities but several media have been talking about the possibility of bringing Google Play Store to the Chinese soil the past few years. But there is no guarantee that they will do it and even more if it will be successful in case they do it. Indeed, at the moment, China’s Android ecosystem is controlled by a lot of third party app stores such as Tencent, Xiaomi, 91 Wireless, Alibaba-owned Wandoujia…
Moreover, one sure thing is that the Chinese market is really huge and represents a big opportunity with more than 730 million internet users. China has recently taken the leadership of the U.S. and became the most lucrative market for iOS app developers in the world.
Also, early March 2017, the official newspaper South China Morning Post said that there were negotiations between Google and the highest spheres of Chinese administration. The discussion should have been about the comeback of Google through its service “Google Solar” to mainly help the research of scientific papers for academic work and scientific journals.
The newspaper said it would not only be limited to this limited research tool but also other services since it would not touch some information judged “sensible” (political information).
What is your next step?
For people who are struggling with the Chinese language and they need some help for the translation of words or sentences they will probably download the Google Translate APP (if it has not already been done). If you have any other question about this subject or even others, do not hesitate to contact us.