China has about half a billion Internet users and about one billion mobile phone subscribers, as per recent reports. However, Google is not likely to cash in on this potential market. Google Drive is blocked in the mainland -- at least for a big majority of its Internet users who don't access it through (illegal) VPNs and tunnels.
Anyone Missing Google Drive?
But even with Google not being able to service this part of the world, the Chinese probably won't miss Google Drive too much, what with other companies offering similar services. Baidu, China's biggest search engine, has just launched a beta of its Wangpan service this March. Wangpan offers 25 GB of cloud storage initially, compared with Google's 5 GB starter account.
Wangpan's launch is currently in private beta, though, only allowing 5,000 new invitations sent per day. But it's already garnered enough attention that popular mobile apps have integrated Wangpan support, such as ES File Explorer, File Expert and Boat Browser. Baidu likewise plans native Wangpan integration with its upcoming Yi OS -- a fork of Android meant for the Chinese market.
Baidu is reportedly working with Foxconn for the development and production of Yi OS smartphones. And given that Foxconn manufactures iPhones and iPads for Apple, it's an indication that Baidu is serious in its efforts.
Google is Not Alone
It's the same scenario with most other popular online services and applications. Take Facebook and Twitter. Both are likewise banned in China, but local social networks and microblogging services from Chinese brands like Tencent and Sina Weibo are hugely popular.
Will Baidu Wangpan be good enough as an alternative to Google Drive? Sure, it has five times more storage compared with Google's entry-level offering. But, Google Drive is not just about storage, as it has functionalities that essentially make it an extension of Google Apps and Google Docs, but only multi-platform and multi-device. With the Chinese easily cloning and building on great apps and ideas, Wangpan probably will rise to the challenge.