Thursday, January 14, 2010

Expect the Chinese and Google to compromise

We might wonder as to the motivation behind 'Google's' demand that: "It's time the Chinese people had unfettered access to information." Didn't seem to bother them before so let us look at the real reason behind the threat and there is a whiff of spophisticated brinkmanship from the internet giant on this one for while, the pretext for leaving China would be because of a sophisticated cyber attack which they say puts dissidents at risk, they have also said that they will hold talks with the Chinese government in the near future " to look at operating an unfiltered search engine within the law in the country."

Yes, we can read between the lines on this one; they haven't gone yet and they are talking and we might see a compromise something like this; no unfiltered search engine but with the filtering being done by the Chinese government rather than 'Google and, perhaps, the unblocking of 'Youttube' and 'facebook', both of which are owned by 'Google' or, at least, 'Google' being allowed to offer other products such as the 'Google Voice' Internet calling service or 'Google's' archive of digital books. Yes, a saving face formula that will allow 'Google' to remain in China as long as they don't insist too much on protecting dissidents and standing up for freedom of speech. Quite a little revelation that one!

The stakes are high and 'Google' is playing a high risk game. However, despite the company losing market share to its main rival 'Baidu', it still has 30% of a market of 350 million, a market which continues to grow. Moreover, only today we are also informed that: "Despite its threat to pull out of the Chinese market over an alleged cyber attack on its servers, Google has been closing the gap on the largest search engine in China,, in the last six months." The Chinese and 'Google' will talk, and even if the 'Times' is predicting that those talks will be short lived, a compromise will be reached. After all,  for both 'Google' , which needs to remain present in the biggest, fastest growing market in the world and a Chinese government that still wants to project the image of a country where the West can do business. There is just too much at stake. In the short and medium term this might mean 'Google' accepting that it is not the market leader for search engines in China and it might mean that 'Google' will have to reposition itself with a product diversification. One shouldn't be surprised if we were to discover that facilitating those "necessessities", is what is in fact behind the internet giant's supposed altruism.

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