Mobile is going to be the next big thing in China and when Google fails to get permission to have its own mapping service, its mobile applications might not work in the world’s largest mobile market, says Paul Denlinger in Forbes. Google Maps is already Google’s most popular service in China.
More significant is the Chinese government’s choice of mapping companies that can provide services in China. This has traditionally been a tightly controlled and regulated sector; this was reinforced by the Chinese government’s announcement that only Chinese companies would be allowed to offer the service, not WFOEs (wholly foreign-owned enterprises). Such an announcement would be in line with the Chinese government’s recent support of “Internet sovereignty.”
If this is indeed the case, many iPhone and Android mobile phone users will find that their location-aware apps don’t work well in China, or if Google Maps are blocked, just don’t work. In practical terms, this will mean that developers will need to develop China-specific location-based services, which routinely access map services sanctioned by the Chinese government. Since these companies do not provide services outside of China, this will mean that these apps are China-specific only.