A Post-Google China

Given by Tian Suning (田溯宁, Edward Tian) on a IT industry summit conference, this piece (Translated by Luke Habberstad. Source: China Digital Times) is the most interesting comment on the Google-China issue I have read.

The second problem. Google is not just for searching. Google represents the future of information technology, since the Google search engine and Google cloud computing [support IT technology] behind the scenes. When we make this sort of company such a big rival, are we not also rejecting these technologies? Let us consider the accomplishments we have now achieved with a modernized core attitude. They came precisely from having an open mind. We brought over the Western invention of mobile communication and the Western invention of photo-communication, and took the title of being the nation with the largest telecommunications company in the world (China Mobile), thus achieving a leap in development. In the future, software technology might emerge in a form that uses Google services. Can we simply follow one sentence from Comrade Lenin and then throw the baby out with the bath water? We need to consider these questions.

On the one hand, the Internet is a beneficial, extremely advanced tool. However, on the other hand, it represents the reform of our ideas. So, as to the question of why, when dealing with new issues we require new thinking, new methods, and a new ideology in order to solve the problems of the Internet age, I think that the Google incident does not provide a resolution. I think that it is the beginning of many similar sorts of incidents. It is not only one Internet company, and it does not only represent technology. Behind it all are values and consciousness, and these values and consciousness have a close relationship with the core technologies of future economic expansion in China. At this time, no matter if we are policy makers, policy advisors, industry insiders, or even one of the many users of the Internet, we have to consider these questions. If they are not resolved, conflicts will become increasingly complicated. We won’t have harmony or mutual benefit, but defeat and injury.

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Planet Google

Here is an interesting graphic showing Google’s market shares around the world, made by Visual Economics.

Half of the countries that Google shares less than 50% of the market are Socialist Republics. See these numbers:

S. Korea: 3%, Mainland China:26%, Hong Kong: 26%, Russia: 32%, Japan: 38%, Malaysia: 51%, Singapore: 57% (Google must be very frustrated about its Asian market!) Czech: 34%, Estonia: 53%

Does it mean Asian countries and Socialist Republics reject the information renovation? Or it just shows that Google is a bad player in Eastern culture?

Source: Visual Economics

The Divorce Between Google And China

For millions of Chinese netizens, it’s the time to say goodbye to Google.

Google, the largest Internet giant in the world, has been struggling with the same question since it came to China 4 years ago: compromise with the Chinese government on censoring certain websites, in order to access the largest population in the world, or stick to its principle while giving up the huge commercial benefit of investing in China.

Source: swik.net/china+Web2.0

It agreed to compromise in 2006, with the confidence that it would maintain its motto “don’t be evil”. But now Google changes the stance: it has announced that it will stop filtering its search results and redirect the customers of google.cn to the new page, google.com.hk, which is based in Hong Kong.

Why did Google decide to leave China at this particular time? The alleged reason is that Chinese government hacked into several human rights dissidents’ gmail accounts, and Google was provoked by it. But from my perspective, this couldn’t be the real reason. Google has its long term business strategies, which couldn’t be changed immediately.   There is only one reason that could explain the sudden change: as an Internet giant, Google cannot be a loser in China anymore.

Google only shared 6.8% of the Internet searching market in China, while Baidu, a Chinese local searching company, occupied 80%, according to 2009 Data Center of China Internet Report. Though Google has made every endeavor to win Chinese netizens in the past 4 years, it finally realized that it is too hard to change the searching behaviors-people prefer to use the search engine they are familiar with. As for China, Baidu has dominated the market for years, leaving little space for Google to survive. Weighing the pros and cons, Google finally decided to withdraw from the battle it could never win.

The divorce between the country with the largest Internet population and the biggest IT company leaves one question: which party will get hurt? Chinese people cannot enjoy the power of the “perfect search” any more, but they can easily find a substitute. As for Google, breaking down the relationship with Chinese government may mean more than it could imagine: it could be possible that Google will lose its Chinese partners in the other business fields, such as the cell phone services, music services, etc. In general, it is definitely a lose-lose situation for both of them, but especially for the Internet search giant.

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