*** Update to blog post below ***
Nov 17 - Google seems poised to return. Several witnesses this week reporting the Google held a huge but off-the-record event at the JW Marriot in Beijing inviting hundreds of future partners to join their Google X efforts. The amount of chatter in the market suggests their return is inevitable and will go beyond Google Play store.
Original Post Below
Some of the more interesting scuttlebutt concerns Google and Facebook and their efforts to enter / re-enter the Chinese market. According to some high placed sources, Facebook is actively negotiating with the Chinese government to enter the market through 5-Star hotels and large enterprise. The logic is that these places can make a good testing ground because the target clientele is more likely to already have access and the experiment can easily be controlled or shutdown as needed.
Regarding Google the latest information is consistent with existing rumors in that they are actively trying to get approval to launch a new Play Store in China. Most insiders feel that the odds of them being successful is slim and if they are successful it will be in such a limited way to be meaningless. It was also quite telling that Google and Uber weren't invited to join the China USA tech forum in Seattle. If Google does win some approval, it will be interesting to see how they respond to inevitable inquiries from the press about censorship and other topics that forced them to leave China previously. Let's see if the launch of the new Huawei Nexus phone on Sept 29 brings any other exciting news.