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The Google Ultimatum



China, China...
Yes, Google.
Hacking our servers?
No, Google.
Telling a lie?
No, Google.
Show us logs of the Golden Shield Project.
Ha! Ha! Ha!

(If you are reading this, you are most probably not in China.)

When I first read the news of Google taking a new approach to China, I was full of cynicism.
We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.
It seemed like a PR strategy from Google. When Google decided to enter China, was it in a Rip Van Winkle's dream? Suddenly after 4 years it woke up and realised oh no, its not Switzerland, its China! But my doubts were "filtered" away when I researched it; through Google of course.

By shutting down in China, Google will lose a potentially huge market. According to estimates by J.P. Morgan, Google will stand to lose 600 million dollars in revenue in 2010 alone. That's not a small figure by any standard. Also, Google's exit will benefit Baidu, China's most popular search engine used by 70% of the population. So, financially it bodes well for Google to toe the Chinese line like Yahoo! did when it shared personal information of human rights activists with Chinese authorities which resulted in jail terms of 10 years for two of them.

This decision shows Google's foresightedness. May be a reason why Google does not have its Gmail or other apps server in China is that it always knew that something like this would happen. It takes some spine to stand upto the oppressive Chinese government which does not take criticism lightly.

On the other hand, the decision to not filter any results would take away the fun we had by comparing the results of "Tianamen Square Massacre" on Google.cn and Google.com. No wonder this has been the most searched item on Google.cn since the filters were lifted.

Finally let's come to the big question - Will this decision by Google affect China and its people? NO.

Chinese anyways use Baidu with Google being used there by only a few white-collared people. China may face some heat for next few days but in the end everything will be back to normal as other companies like Yahoo! and Microsoft will scramble to fill the void created by Google's exit. In fact, Microsoft China ex-President has even termed Google's decision as "foolish".


Flowers placed at Google's China Office
after the announcement

But amidst all this, Google has lived upto its motto of "Don't Be Evil" and its deserves an applause for this. Well done Google!

Comments

  1. great post...continue....i have never read such an objective view abt anything...

    ReplyDelete

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