Google inches closer to China reentry with launch of mainland version of Files Go

Google announced today that it launched Google (文件极客, in English literally “file geek”), the China version of Files Go, a document management app for smartphones.

According to Google, the light but powerful app will be able to personalize storage management and document search. Google expects users will on average save 1GB storage during the first 4 weeks using the app. The China version also has an offline function which enables phone-to-phone document transfer within a certain distance. Peak speed of the transfer reaches 488Mbps.

The app is now available for Android 5.0 + smartphones. While Google Play is still unavailable in China, Google offers download links on the Baidu, Huawei, Tencent, and Xiaomi’s application stores.

While the local market is interested in discussing Google’s ban in China and its attempt to alleviate the relationship with government, more interesting is the technology it holds and why the government shows greenlight to software such as Files Go’s China version. China knows well its path to become a true leading tech power in the world. The proud country has a long way to go.

On February 9, after Tesla successfully launched Spacex, CCP paper of record People.cn released an op-ed article titled “There are more than one ways to space (通往太空的路不止一条)” (in Chinese). The article admitted that China is behind leading space technology powers in related sectors. The article also expressed “the intensification of pressure on R&D (科研压力的紧迫)”.

In fact, Chinese media has never been shy about reporting Google news. From machine learning to autonomous driving, from investment to new software update, Google has never disappeared in China. Its reputation has been increasing in the country due to its technological breakthroughs and penetration into larger technology landscapes.

From this perspective, the Chinese government is highly practical. The separation between politics and business may not always be clear, but key technology, infrastructure construction, and efficiency management tools that China lack will have strategic priority.

Nevertheless, for national security reasons, the Google product’s Chinese version is definitely not as simple as a translated Files Go in Chinese. In the past 6 months, high-level officers from Google visited China several times. Baidu, Huawei, and Tencent’s relationships with the government are also strong.

And Google needs China. The ban keeps Google out of China’s rapid technology activities particularly data collection.

While Google’s flagship products and their search engine may not receive Chinese market’s invitation in the near future, software and other functional technologies and applications will find the Chinese market more open and inclusive.