The Google Play Store has always been the go-to platform for most Android users. While Google doesn't forbid users from using alternative sources such as F-Droid and the Amazon App Store, their lack of visibility (and apps) drive away potential users from the platforms. Google has also been caught attempting to stifle competition by flagging it an entire app repository as 'malicious'. There is, however, an entire app ecosystem independent of the Google Play Store in China, where the service is banned. Now, it appears that Chinese OEMs are sick of the Play Store monopoly and plan to do something about it.
Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, and Huawei join forces to create the GDSA (Global Developer Service Alliance)
According to a report by Reuters, four of the largest Chinese smartphone manufacturers have come together to take on the Google Play Store. Huawei, in particular, had been hard at work getting developers onboard its App Gallery platform ever since the company was forbidden from sideloading its devices with Google Play Services. A company executive even went as far as saying that Huawei won't go back to Google even after the US government eases its sanctions.
Looking at how Huawei (and ZTE) has been treated in the past, it comes as no surprise that the four Chinese behemoths have decided to band up. Dubbed the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA), the platform aims to make it easier for developers to market their apps without relying on the Google Play Store. There's even a GDSA website that sheds some light on what the alliance wants to achieve as a collective.
The GDSA platform provides unified access to multiple mobile phone manufacturers’ stores. Developers can submit applications (including Android free-to-install applications, games, music, movies, books, magazines, or other digital content or services through the registration platform), which can be synchronized to multiple mobile phone manufacturers’ app stores that have already cooperated.
Initially, the GDSA aims to establish its presence in nine key regions including India, Indonesia, and Russia. Oppo, Vivo, and Xiaomi have a strong presence in south-east Asian markets such as India. Huawei and Honor, on the other hand, are better represented in markets such as the Middle East and Europe. The four companies have been collectively responsible for more than 40% of all global smartphone shipments in Q4 2019.
GDSA's Play Store alternative could make its debut later this year
The Google Play Store is, undoubtedly, an integral part of the Android experience for enthusiasts and regular users alike. It'll be interesting to see how the GDSA incentivizes users to make the switch to its platform. One of the tried-and-tested methods by Chinese companies is to throw copious amounts of money at a problem and undercut the competition. Xiaomi, Oppo and Vivo's strategy of making high-powered smartphones available at throwaway prices is the reason why their presence is so massive in Asia. The alliance could very well employ similar tactics to 'convince' users to make the switch.
Or, the alliance could just do what they've been doing all this time. Devices from the four companies have a dedicated fan following in several regions. With the right marketing, a lot of users wouldn't mind ditching the Google Play Store for the yet-to-be-announced platform. The tricky part will be to convince developers to do the same. Huawei has already set aside upwards of $3 billion for the endeavor, and it won't be surprising if the other three companies follow suit and pitch in.