Google and the Chinese government seemed to be at odds once again today, as online services related to the search giant's Android.com market in that country were apparently inaccessible. But what appeared to be an intentional government blocking was merely a glitch related to a software update, Google told CNET.
"We identified a technical issue during a software update and have now fixed it," Google spokesman Taj Meadows wrote in an e-mail.
Two Web sites that test URLs to see if they're available in China revealed Google's online store for mobile apps was inaccessible earlier today. Search results for "market.android.com" at Greatfirewallofchina.org and blockedinchina indicated that Android.com services were blocked across the major regions of China, including Beijing, Shenzen, Inner Mongolia, the Heilongjiang Province, and the Yunnan Province.
The two sites didn't explain why the app store was blocked. But some news and blog sites speculated on the motive.
The block on Android.com started over the weekend, according to The Register, right after Google said it would set up a virtual visit to South Africa for the Dalai Lama. China and the Dalai Lama have long engaged in a war of words, criticizing each other.
Further speculation included the notion that there may have been an attempt to protect a new mobile operating system known as Qiushi, which is being developed by Chinese search engine Baidu and could present competition to Android, according to Ubergizmo. An analyst who e-mailed ZDNet Asia also said an intentional blocking of the service by the Chinese government would prevent a "major setback" for Google, as it could easily drive people to other mobile platforms.
So long as the Google service remains accessible in China, the speculation can be put aside.
Updated at 4:30 p.m. PT with comment from Google, and again at 11 p.m. to reflect that this this Android market is different from the Android Market used in the U.S. Users instead visit a Web site on a computer to access online services .