Friday, September 29, 2006

China features in new chapter of "The Search"

John Battelle's book The Search, along with The Long Tail, has been one of the Web 2.0 publishing hits of the past year or so. He posts regarding the premature release of its paperback edition and then quotes from his new chapter which updates on developments in the past year. Interestingly (to me), this post relates to China.

He comments "...regardless of the sleepless nights, in the past year Google has entered China with gusto. It not only opened offices and poached staff from Microsoft (prompting an unsuccessful lawsuit from Redmond), it also launched a Chinese native site ( and agreed to the rules of the Chinese government (in short, the site is censored).

Now, as I pointed out earlier, this is not a new development for US Internet companies – Yahoo, Microsoft, and many other information services had already submitted their products to Chinese censorship. But when Google made the move, well, that got some attention.

He goes on "[Google VP Eliot] Schrage and others admitted that China represented a conundrum, and during the hearings and afterwards there was vague talk of a “coalition” effort – an industry pact of sorts that might actually voice an opinion about China’s attempts to censor its businesses. But such ideas seemed doomed to remain just that – ideas. Were Google, Yahoo, or others to actually voice a strong opinion about Chinese policies, well, Beijing would not look kindly on such moves. Not to mention Wall Street, of course – there’s profit to be made in China, if everyone just keeps their heads down".

Update: catching up on a backlog of posts elsewhere, I noticed, immediately after sending off the above, this interesting piece from Fons Tuinstra about how Google is losing 'traction' in China at the high end of the market. The report started with Red Herring, I gather, but Fons has updated with a few additional links in this piece.

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