31st March 2011, it is the new deadline (it was by end of 2010) given by the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM) to get the mapping license. If the mapping service operator continues its service without the licence, it will be punished after 1st July. And till now, Google has not submitted its application to the officials yet.
Why is it so difficult for Google? According the regulation, for foreign companies which want to apply for mapping license, the most important requirements are:
- a). the servers which store the map-related data must be located within China;
- b). the license must be applied by a join venture company or a legal Chinese partner.
As Google has moved most of its service to HongKong, the requirement a). could be really the headache. Note that there is one foreign company has got the license, it is Nokia via its Shanghai-based join venture company.
If Google Maps is out of China, it is going to be really bad not only for Google itself, but for many Chinese local internet companies. Most of Android phone and iPhone are bundled with Google Maps applications, popular service like Dianpin (Chinese Yelp) have been using it for years, and many new mobile applications such as Location-based Service all have Google Maps integrated. They might be thinking of the alternatives now.
And another international giant Microsoft needs the license asap too.