Google money chief vows, uh, return to China

World information advertising mission


Google says it wants to re-renter China, less than a year after famously told the world it would leave the country over an attack on the company's infrastructure by Chinese hackers.

Patrick Pichette, the company's chief financial officer, tells The Times that the decision to depart China is a mere "road block" on its mission to bring information to world+dog. "China has 1.2 billion people. For Google to say, ‘We’re going to live on our mission, but not serve 1.2 billion people’ – it just doesn’t work. China wants Google.”

That's, well, debatable. But to make his point, Pichette pointed out that if you visited China in the past two weeks and you searched on "Nobel Peace Prize", there would be no results on the major search engines. "Think of Google's brand now. You're Chinese, you know that's not true, that the Nobel Peace prize has not disappeared from the face of the earth. There lies the issue of brand. There lies the issue of our mission."

Yes, a big part of Google's mission to serve advertising to those 1.2 billion people. But Google's chief financial officer didn't mention this. "You have the right to know who won the Nobel Peace prize this year. For us to actually not have any of these results, it doesn't make sense to filter any more. That's why we took the stance we took."

On January 12, 2010, Google announced that Chinese hackers had stolen unspecified intellectual property from the company's internal systems, and it said evidence indicated that "a primary motive" of the attacks was to gain access to the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Due to the attack - and what the company described as other, routine attacks on the Gmail accounts of such activists - Google said it would stop censoring search results in China.

Roughly two months later, after talks with Chinese government, Google shut down its Chinese search engine, Google.cn, and redirected visitors to its Hong-Kong-based engine, Google.com.hk, where it provides uncensored search results in simplified Chinese. But the Chinese government didn't like the automatic redirects, so now Google is merely advising visitors to search on the Hong Kong site.

According to Robin Li — the chairman and chief executive of the native Chinese search engine Baidu — his service is now used by 99 per cent of the country's internet users. That's about 420 million people, or roughly one third of the country's population. "We have very high coverage," Li said this fall. "We actually answer more queries in China than any other search engine in any other market."

An independent report indicates that Baidu has 73 per cent of the market, while Google commands 21.6 per cent. And the company's advertising share is a mere 8.9 per cent.

Pichette says that at the moment, the conditions aren't right for a Google return to China. But this was merely a reference "the great firewall of China" – i.e. its censorship policy. Li said Google didn't exactly rule the roost in China in part because it didn't understand the country. "China is a very different market," he said. "It is a large and growing market. The market conditions change every day. If you're not close to that market, it's very difficult for you to evolve with market demand." ®

Broader topics


Other stories you might like

  • DigitalOcean tries to take sting out of price hike with $4 VM
    Cloud biz says it is reacting to customer mix largely shifting from lone devs to SMEs

    DigitalOcean attempted to lessen the sting of higher prices this week by announcing a cut-rate instance aimed at developers and hobbyists.

    The $4-a-month droplet — what the infrastructure-as-a-service outfit calls its virtual machines — pairs a single virtual CPU with 512 MB of memory, 10 GB of SSD storage, and 500 GB a month in network bandwidth.

    The launch comes as DigitalOcean plans a sweeping price hike across much of its product portfolio, effective July 1. On the low-end, most instances will see pricing increase between $1 and $16 a month, but on the high-end, some products will see increases of as much as $120 in the case of DigitalOceans’ top-tier storage-optimized virtual machines.

    Continue reading
  • GPL legal battle: Vizio told by judge it will have to answer breach-of-contract claims
    Fine-print crucially deemed contractual agreement as well as copyright license in smartTV source-code case

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has won a significant legal victory in its ongoing effort to force Vizio to publish the source code of its SmartCast TV software, which is said to contain GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 copyleft-licensed components.

    SFC sued Vizio, claiming it was in breach of contract by failing to obey the terms of the GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 licenses that require source code to be made public when certain conditions are met, and sought declaratory relief on behalf of Vizio TV owners. SFC wanted its breach-of-contract arguments to be heard by the Orange County Superior Court in California, though Vizio kicked the matter up to the district court level in central California where it hoped to avoid the contract issue and defend its corner using just federal copyright law.

    On Friday, Federal District Judge Josephine Staton sided with SFC and granted its motion to send its lawsuit back to superior court. To do so, Judge Staton had to decide whether or not the federal Copyright Act preempted the SFC's breach-of-contract allegations; in the end, she decided it didn't.

    Continue reading
  • US brings first-of-its-kind criminal charges of Bitcoin-based sanctions-busting
    Citizen allegedly moved $10m-plus in BTC into banned nation

    US prosecutors have accused an American citizen of illegally funneling more than $10 million in Bitcoin into an economically sanctioned country.

    It's said the resulting criminal charges of sanctions busting through the use of cryptocurrency are the first of their kind to be brought in the US.

    Under the United States' International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEA), it is illegal for a citizen or institution within the US to transfer funds, directly or indirectly, to a sanctioned country, such as Iran, Cuba, North Korea, or Russia. If there is evidence the IEEA was willfully violated, a criminal case should follow. If an individual or financial exchange was unwittingly involved in evading sanctions, they may be subject to civil action. 

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022