Google says China is at ‘the heart’ of in­ter­net's fu­ture

The Pak Banker - - Company& -

BEI­JING: Google Inc. said it has many chances for growth in China, where the com­pany shut down its web­search site in a dis­pute over cen­sor­ship, and called the Asian nation the "heart" of the In­ter­net's fu­ture.

Maps and dis­play ad­ver­tis­ing are ar­eas where Google can ex­pand and in­no­vate in China, even with­out a search page in the world's largest In­ter­net mar­ket, Alan Eus­tace, se­nior vice pres­i­dent of en­gi­neer­ing and re­search, said in Bei­jing to­day.

Google, owner of the world's most pop­u­lar search en­gine, has been los­ing search-mar­ket share in China to Bei­jing-based Baidu Inc. since Jan­uary, when the Moun­tain View, Cal­i­for­ni­abased com­pany said it was no longer will­ing to com­ply with govern­ment rules on con­tent. Web­site op­er­a­tors in China are re­quired to self-cen­sor in­for­ma­tion on topics such as the Tianan­men Square crack­down in 1989 and Ti­bet in­de­pen­dence.

"Search is only one piece of our busi­ness," Eus­tace told re­porters af­ter the Google In­no­va­tion con­fer­ence. "There are lots of ar­eas we can in­no­vate. It's not a nar­row slice."

In March, Google shut its Chi­nese search ser­vice and redi­rected lo­cal users to its un­fil­tered Hong Kong site. China re­newed Google's In­ter­net li­cense in July, af­ter the com­pany stopped au­to­mat­i­cally redi­rect­ing users to the Hong Kong site and put in place a so-called land­ing page that re­quires users to opt for the al­ter­na­tive ser­vice.

The In­ter­net "can be a huge force for good in the world," Eus­tace said in a speech. "We're at the very be­gin­ning and China, in my opin­ion, will lead much of that revo­lu­tion." The nation is "the

heart of the fu­ture of the In­ter­net."

Google's share of China's In­ter­net search-en­gine mar­ket dropped to 24.6 per­cent in the third quar­ter from 26.8 per­cent in the pre­vi­ous three months, ac­cord­ing to iRe­search. That was the low­est level since the fourth quar­ter of 2007, the Shang­hai-based re­search com­pany said.

Baidu's mar­ket share in­creased to 72.9 per­cent in the third quar­ter from 71 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to iRe­search. China had an es­ti­mated 420 mil­lion In­ter­net users at the end of June, data from the govern­ment-spon­sored China In­ter­net Net­work In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter show.

He Di, a Bei­jing-based Web de­signer who at­tended the Google con­fer­ence, said he has turned to Baidu more since Google started di­rect­ing Chi­nese users to its Hong Kong site.

"Com­pared to a year ago, I use Google less be­cause the search re­sults and search speed are af­fected," He said. "Baidu has launched some new func­tions that are very con­ve­nient."

China's State Bureau of Sur­vey­ing and Map­ping in May re­quired com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing on­line map ser­vices in the nation to ap­ply for a li­cense from the bureau to con­tinue busi­ness, cit­ing na­tional se­cu­rity. Com­pa­nies have un­til July 1 to ap­ply for a li­cense, the China Daily news­pa­per re­ported last month. The govern­ment agency in Oc­to­ber started a com­pet­ing ser­vice called "Map World."

Eus­tace said Google has no first-hand knowl­edge of claims on the whis­tle-blow­ing web­site, Wik­iLeaks.org, that China's govern­ment di­rected In­ter­net attacks against the com­pany.

Hack­ers backed by Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties con­ducted ex­ten­sive com­puter hack­ing on U.S. govern­ment agen­cies and com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing net­works of Google, the New York Times re­ported. -Bloomberg

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