Google + 退出

You probably already read about it, but it’s hard to keep Google’s very public withdrawal announcement out of any blog that involves foreigners and China. I don’t know if it’s evidence of anything, but to find a news result in Chinese I actually had to go search Baidu this morning instead of Google, even though the subject is clearly on the minds of Google China searchers [highlighted search suggestion: 谷歌退出中国 = “Google withdraws from China”]:

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[Also note that, per the announcement, now resolves into simplified characters at the Hong Kong URL]

That’s sure to change by the time you read this, because I was searching not long after the 3am announcement. But I suppose the fact that Baidu’s results scoop Google’s would be a small feather in the caps of those who maintained that Google’s withdrawal was really all about an inability to dominate the local market.

It never was just that. But I’ll leave the analysis to those who specialize in such and close with a selfishly linguistic point of view. It’s hard not to see the disappearance of as a bad thing for linguistic research, for everything from quick-and-dirty word counts to the actual discovery of papers and analysis. Even if, miraculously, the mainland doesn’t block the Hong Kong site that forwards to, Google’s decreased revenues are going to make it hard for the organization to justify investment. The inevitable result: less search, less content. Sure, there’s Baidu, but if we acknowledge that competition is the key to innovation, it’s hard not to see Baidu innovating less in the less competitive environment.

Ah, well, like the smog in Beijing, the new web reality will soon settle over us all and cease to warrant comment.

5 responses to “Google + 退出”

  1. Ed says:

    Can I ask what the general sentiment is within China about Google’s withdrawal? Here in the UK the reports and comment is generally pretty anti-China so it’s hard to get a good perspective

  2. Syz says:

    @Ed: I wish I knew the general sentiment, but I don’t think it’s something anyone will ever know. Nothing approaching a valid public opinion poll is ever going to get done. Any online polls are going to be hopelessly biased one way or the other.

    My guess is that, by sheer numbers, most Chinese internet users don’t (barely?) know and don’t care. They were already using Baidu and only dimly aware of alternatives anyway. Then there are those who used Google. I guess they’ll continue to use it as long as it redirects to an unblocked site. If the government blocks it, most will switch to Baidu without much grumbling. Those Chinese who would continue to use Google services if they’re blocked are then the hardcore remainder. Maybe the parallel would be to people who install Linux on their home computers.

  3. Chrix says:

    But they say that Google had 30-35% market share. Wouldn’t those users care? It is very hard to judge, especially for those of us who are not in China right now…

    The BBC had a piece where they allegedly reported on the reaction of Chinese netizens, but unfortunately all anti-Google voices they quoted were based on the mainland and all pro-Google ones were outside the country. Great reporting, that.

  4. Chrix says:

    sorry, not “allegedly” but “purportedly”… I need an editing function, or at least a preview function 😉

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