What Will We Miss About Google In China?

March 22, 2010 | Print | Comments | Category: Commentary






News from many outlets the past week is that Google is planning to announce a withdrawal from China today. Google's departure will boost rivals like Baidu.com, but it is a no-win scenario for Google.

Google was doomed from the beginning, as we correctly predicted four years ago and then stated later: "Some Americans would hope that the entry of American technology firms like Google and Yahoo into China is the second-coming of Glasnost. Don't kid yourselves.".

Making censorship the centerpiece for its China departure is partly subterfuge to divert observers from Google's failing hopes in China — Google's China operations and "guanxi" chief abruptly departed the company a few months ago; Google has consistently failed to engage Chinese users; and the company last year ran into legal headaches from Chinese authors who accused the seemingly-infallible search giant with copyright infringement. Unlike competitor Microsoft, Google's top American executives have neither the balls nor stomach to continue fighting in China and they have shown that they truly are on "Internet time" and have no ability to withstand a prolonged entry into China.

As much as we expected problems with Google from the beginning, we are still huge fans of the services the company provides in China. Here is a (sometimes sarcastic) list, in no particular order, of what we will miss about Google in China:

1) Google's fantastic travel metasearch feature in China that gives great details on where to find train tickets and other travel deals. It also extends its Froogle.com overseas features into China to give Chinese users a great way to verify and compare online shopping prices for electronics.

2) Google's pruned and narrow Chinese-language news search. We will miss Google's government-sanctioned list of news delivered to us each day.

3) Having Google as a counterbalance to Baidu.com, Sogou.com and other search engines to find better results online.

4) Using Google's Adsense to display Chinese company ads and using Google as a reliable marketing partner to help drive the growth of brands online in China. True, search engine marketing gets easier somewhat when digital marketing firms need concentrate on fewer search engines, but more choice ultimately brings more options for netizens, marketers, and brands.

5) Google's decent English-language mobile mapping features in China. How many times have we been in second-tier cities like Hangzhou or Tianjin and had to type "nearby Starbucks" into our phones? Lots of times. Other Chinese companies will need to provide this service to the small — but important — number of foreign tourists in the country. Maybe now Ctrip.com or eLong.com can put a mapping feature into their mobile sites?

6) Mocking silly analysts outside of China who continuously write how Google — which has between 20-35% of the search market traffic in China — actually has a chance of defeating Baidu.com.

7) Its very cool Chinese domain name: G.cn.

8) The Google staffers and employees in China who will now need to find new jobs.

What will you miss about Google in China? Do you think departing China is in Google's best interest?


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7 Responses to “What Will We Miss About Google In China?”

  1. By Tony LuceMarch 22, 2010 at 11:06 am

    How does an internet company leave the internet? Is it me, or is everyone simply assuming Google will disappear from the Chinese internet the day they "pull-out"?

  2. By brinaMarch 22, 2010 at 10:52 pm

    What will be missed…TRUTH and honest information.

  3. By Hi China- CraigMarch 23, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Much Respect from an American…

    Chinese people don't NEED censorship, but you do need multiple perspectives. You are focusing on Google like they've been hurting your country. What have they done to hurt you? They show you when search results are censored, so how is that a bad thing?

    The world is aware of how difficult it is to operate in China. You strong arm foreign businesses, steal their technology and set up a factory right down the street. (a real slap in the face to foreign business – thanks) You sell pirated copies of movies and software in your stores. You don't allow your currency to value with the market, so your exports are really cheap, at the expense of other countries economies. But you think Google is bad because why?

    They got attacked by some group of people operating inside of your country thru a proxy server, or actually inside your country. If you run a business that is global, and you get hacked from the U.S. I'm sure you'd react accordingly.

    Here in America, we have people who watch "Fox News" and it just outright lies all the time, but we can SEE that because there are multiple sources for our information coming from all over the globe. This latest news about Google is not an attack on your culture, it is only trying to help you share it with the world.

    Your country is great, and the world wants to hear your voices, even if it's something as simple as a "Hi" or as mean as "screw off". What I'm trying to say, is that without the people's voice, the Peoples Republic of China is just one voice: The Government.

    I'll leave you with that, and hopefully you don't agree with EVERYTHING I said, but at least some of it. That's the point of opinion, everyone has a different point of view.

  4. By RyanMarch 23, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Thank you, Craig

  5. By Fifth DayMarch 23, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    access to everything is what will be missed. as nobody really wins in this game and ultimately the chinese people lose :(

  6. By DavidMarch 24, 2010 at 12:42 am

    I would hope that someone at your site can explain the Chinese governments apparent paranoria over the free flow of information?

    The people of China are among some of the best educated in the world. Many students have acquired degrees in western countries, been exposed to many aspects of western culture.

    Censorship in the west has always been taboo since the concept of freedom of information is so ingrained as being vital for business, art, and education to thrive and grow.

    Can anyone provide a rational answer?

    David
    Warren, Michigan
    United States of America

  7. By aslam azharApril 23, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    can someone tell me the definition of DEMOCRACY?Let me explain it from my point of view.Democracy allows people's opinion,allows free and hassle less competitoion among firms which lead to innovation,allows free flow of information and gives the right to choose their own government.China has been traditionally a communist supporter and it is quite evidient from its past bloody civilwar.As it is a communist country,it doesn't allow free flow of information and also doesn't allow competetion of its domestic firms along with outsiders.Chinese people are also a kind of obessed with it.No foreign telecom operator or social networking sites are allowed there.HOwever,i would say GOOGLE did the biggest ever mistake in its career when it entered into china.perhaps GOOGLE was lured by the huge market of china,sidestepping the moral of "free flow of information" established by internet.Now GOOGLE has learnt a lesson.

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