Monday, July 12, 2010

China renews Google's license, to stay

Up until as recently as a few days ago, when China renewed Google's ICP (Internet Content Provider) license, Google was on the verge of going "dark in China," as Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond put it.  This was due to a controversial decision made in January to stop censoring the results on its search page.  The decision came on the heels of widely publicized hacking attempts on Google and other organizations originating in China, and shocked a great many people.  The Chinese government was obviously unhappy with this, and as China is the world's largest growing market of internet users, Google had a lot to lose with this gamble.

Initially, Google redirected users to, it's Hong Kong search page, which is still in Chinese but subject to different laws and which did not have to be filtered.  This workaround proved insufficient to appease the Chinese government, and rather than leave China entirely in the hands of Baidu, Google reconfigured the landing page to what it is today.  A few links on the bottom allow for limited services to still run off the Chinese site, but that image of an actual search box is just that - an image - and redirects to the Hong Kong site.  This compromise appears to work for both parties, and is on firm footing again, at least for the moment.

Google was already playing second fiddle to Baidu in China by a wide margin - when I covered this topic back in January, I had seen numbers in the low 30s for Google's market share - and their recent troubles have only made things worse.  According to BusinessWeek, its share declined from around 35% 3 months ago to around 30% today, on top of the fact that Google has lost several key sponsorships.  However, 30% is still a whole lot better than nothing.  All in all this seems like a good compromise where Google gets to feel like it keeps its integrity, and also at least a share of the Chinese market.

Further reading (googleblog) - Google enters China, Google leaves China, Google gets renewed in China

No comments:

Post a Comment