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Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo team up to make app platform to rival Google

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Chinese smartphone firms Xiaomi, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo have announced they are joining forces on a platform that will allow external developers to upload their apps onto all four company’s app stores simultaneously.

The move follows the US decision to ban Huawei from working with domestic firms, which had the side effect of preventing its phones from shipping preloaded with Google’s App Store.

First reported by Reuters, the proposed group platform is seen as a way to challenge the dominance of Google in the smartphone space amid possible fears that other Chinese firms could end up on the chopping block like Huawei.

The four companies are ironing out kinks in what is known as the Global Developer Service Alliance (GDSA), which could launch in March this year.

The platform aims to make it easier for developers of games, music, movies and other apps to promote their apps in overseas markets.

Chinese vendors are trying to capture a greater share of software and services as hardware sales slow, said Will Wong, a smartphone analyst with IDC.

“App store, pre-loading apps, advertisements and gaming are areas that could generate new revenue” he said.

A prototype website says the platform will initially cover nine “regions” including India, Indonesia and Russia.

All of Google’s services have been banned in China since 2010 after the firm pulled out following a Chinese-originated hacking attack on them and other US tech companies.

The search giant earned around $8.8bn from its App Store in 2019 due to the 30 per cent commission it takes from developers and media outlets that make their content available there.

“By forming this alliance, each company will be looking to leverage the others’ advantages in different regions, with Xiaomi’s strong user base in India, Vivo and Oppo in Southeast Asia and Huawei in Europe,” said Nicole Peng, the VP of mobility at Canalys.

“Secondly, it’s to start to build some more negotiation power against Google,” she added.

Together the four companies made up 40.1 per cent of global handset shipments in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to the consultancy IDC.

Huawei has already started trying to woo external developers for its App Gallery and promised £20m in investment for those based in the UK and Ireland last month.

It’s aggressive strategy could also see ads placed on the lock screen and automatic targeting of users’ media interests.

Huawei is also moving away from Google by developing its own Harmony OS as an alternative.

The GDSA’s website includes the logo of Wanka Online, a Hong Kong-listed Android “ecosystem” platform next to a contact for the GDSA’s General Secretariat. Wanka declined to confirm its involvement.

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