Motorola sidelines Google to stay in Chinese Android space

By Caroline Gabriel, Rethink Wireless

So is this the way the Android market will go in China, in the face of the Google row? Motorola, undeterred by China Unicom’s postponed launch of its first Android phone for the country, has unveiled an app store, in which local search engine Baidu takes the prominent place usually occupied by Google.

The store is called Shop4Apps and supports Android handsets. We may wonder why Chinese consumers need yet another store, when they have the operators’ own multi-OS shopfronts, such as Unicom’s Unistore, and the Android Market, but of course, Google’s potential exit from China may take its heavily controlled Market along with it. And Motorola is doing more than just opening a shop, it aims to stimulate the expansion of its Chinese software ecosystem in a country where 3G and mobile broadband apps are very new.

The company’s statement said Shop4Apps will be available on new Motorola smartphones in time for Chinese New Year.

The firm has also added a new feature to its Android handsets for China, allowing users to select their own search provider, with Chinese leader Baidu in pole position. This is the first time that Motorola has opened up the choice of search engine, and this highlights the dilemma Google’s Chinese stand-off has created for partners that are relying heavily on Android in this important market.

“Users will be able to select their search experience from a number of providers including Baidu and others, with whom Motorola has signed strategic agreements,” said the vendor.

Christy Wyatt, corporate VP of software and services at Motorola Mobile Devices, said: “In addition to our close collaboration with the Android community, we are working closely with our carrier partners in China, and with ecosystem partners like Baidu to provide consumers with a full suite of services. These services will include search, email and maps for our newest China smartphones” (in other words, Google’s most important services).

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