China's second largest wireless carrier - China Unicom - has said it will remove Google's search service from the Android phones it developed in tandem with the web giant, citing the company's decision to reroute Google.cn to uncensored servers in Hong Kong.
“We are willing to work with any company that abides by Chinese law . . . we don’t have any co-operation with Google currently,” said Unicom president Lu Yimin, according to the Financial Times.
Google had already postponed the launch of two Unicom Android phones, saying back in late January that it would be "irresponsible" to bring them to market as it mulled its position in China. On January 12, after alleged Chinese hackers pilfered intellectual property from Google's internal systems, the company announced that it would no longer censor search results in the country, and it spent the next two months and change looking for ways of making good on that promise.
Then, on Monday, it redirected Google.cn, its Chinese search engine, to servers in Hong Kong, where it began serving search results to the mainland in simplified Chinese.
In a recent statement sent to The Register, Google says that due to ongoing issues with its search engine in the country, it has "postponed the availability of Google mobile applications on Android devices from operators in China until further notice". But at least on Unicom, that postponement is now permanent.
Contacted again today, Google said "we have nothing new to share".
Unicom will still offer the Android phones, and it says handset makers choose which search engine to use. Motorola and Samsung manufactured the two delayed Unicom phones, and early this month Motorola said that before the end of the quarter it would add a Microsoft Bing browser bookmark and a Bing search widget to new Chinese phones based on Google's open source OS. It appears, however, that Bing will not be the default search engine.
According to The FT, China Mobile - the country's largest carrier - is still offering Google as one search option on phones that are based on Android, but the China Mobile chairman recently said that the two companies never had an exclusive relationship. ®