Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What I think about Google leaving China

Links to read: Google got hacked yesterday by China (ahem.. the Chinese government agents.. ahem)
Excuse me I have a cough
and in turn Iran hacked China (ahem.. interesting coincidence in timing no?)

What do I think about all this? Well I've read a lot and discussed with coworkers. Some of their views are
1. That Google is trying to use its leverage for greedy under the table bonuses from the government (cynical view)

2. That Google is trying to force the Chinese government to open up in retaliation for hacking its servers, without openly accusing the Chinese government of course, because that's too hard to prove and pointless even if they do. (manipulator view)

3. That Google doesn't make more than 2% of its revenue from China so losing that is no huge blow and a great gain of PR in the eyes of the rest of the world that loathes censorship. (The Google doesn't care about China view)


4. That Google is awesome and might actually pull out of China unless the government bends over backwards and changes its policies (cough.. like that'll happen because of a search engine.. cough) (Idealistic view)

I personally think China isn't going to change anything for Google. It has Baidu (the government arm and leg into the internet) AND Microsoft's heartless, soulless empire in the form of Bing! which has no problem with "Do No Evil" since its not in their constitutional mission statement.

However I'm glad Google is at least being consistent with their statement, albeit after sinning for a while. I think Google is really going to leave. If you disagree and have something constructive to add or say I'd love to hear your opinion. I was personally comforted to hear that the hackers didn't get anything important.


mbp said...

I am not quite cynical enough to believe (1) (although perhaps I could believe that certain US agencies are prodding Google into becoming a stalking horse against China in a new virtual cold war.)

I also don't buy (3). Google is a very smart bunch of people with a global vision for the future. I cannot imagine they would write off a quarter of the worlds population even if they are only worth a few percent of today's revenues.

That leaves 2 or 4 which basically mean the same thing - Google is declaring war on China to try and force the most populous country on the planet to change its policies (for either selfish or altruistic reasons - take your pick).

It is very hard t o see how Google could win such a war. Using any traditional means of analysis the Chinese Government has all the power. Is it possible that the old adage about information being power could come home to roost and Google could turn out to have unexpected strength? I for one am looking forward to finding out just how powerful the world's number one information broker really is.

Thallian said...

hmmm we'll see but I don't think China cares enough to move, though what might get it to move would be a total pullout of western companies. That would be significant. Keep in mind it still has Bing! and Baidu so even if Google leaves the civilians have search engines.