Most of Google’s services are still banned in China, but the US tech behemoth is trickling into that market in various other ways. Today, it announced it’s pouring US$550 million into ecommerce powerhouse JD.com as part of a “strategic partnership” between the two.
Under the deal, Google and JD plan to jointly develop a range of online shopping solutions in regions outside China – specifically, Southeast Asia, the US, and Europe. JD will start selling products through the Google Shopping platform, an aggregator for ecommerce sites based on product search.
The duo said they will leverage each other’s expertise – JD’s supply chain and logistics network and Google’s tech clout – to build these services.
Valued at US$65 billion, JD has made some headway into Southeast Asia, specifically Thailand and Indonesia, extending its competition with Chinese rival Alibaba.
Among its other forays in Southeast Asia, Google invested in Indonesian ride-hailing unicorn Go-Jek earlier this year, joining its US$1.2 billion round in which JD also participated.
In China, Google has nowhere near the reach it has elsewhere with its suite of services, from search to maps to Android phones, and so on. However, it has been increasing its presence in the country through other avenues.
It has set up a research and development center for artificial intelligence projects in Beijing that can house more than 300 employees, and local versions of its Maps and Translate apps, in collaboration with local partners like Alibaba. It also operates a file managing app called Files Go.
Meanwhile, Google CEO Sundar Pichai appeared in the state-organized World Internet Conference in Wuzhen last December, telling the audience that Google wants to help Chinese companies to get their products out to more markets. Apple CEO Tim Cook also attended.
Google was slapped with a US$2.8 billion fine by the European Union for abusing its dominance in search to push the Google Shopping platform.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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