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China Unicom Drops Google From Android Search

China Unicom has a few Android phones in the pipeline (Motorola & Samsung) but, due to the search giant’s cold-search-war with China, they’ll be removing Google as the default search from their Android-based handsets. Ouch.

google-china
(image from joyoftech.com)

You can’t blame them, and even if they left Google as the default search, failure for it to actually work might cause people to switch anyways. If you’re thinking of blaming them, listen to what China Unicom President Lu Yimin has to say:

“We are willing to work with any company that abides by Chinese law…we don’t have any co-operation with Google currently.”

It’s hard to argue with that. But the interesting statistic here, pointed out by the BBC, is this:

“The move could be a big blow for Google as China has far more people owning and using mobiles than it does using the net.”

And what makes the truth hurt even more, is Google was actually gaining some ground on Baidu and mobile seemed like it could be their edge to get a more solid foot in the door as they drag the second foot in (leaving their shoes outside of course):

“although it is a distant second on computer searches, Google is nearly tied for first with China’s Baidu Inc. for market share in China’s nascent mobile-search sector.” — LA Times

China has a larger population than any other country and represents a huge opportunity of growth for Google, a company who has nearly maxed out its search market share for Western civilization. That growth opportunity won’t be pursued or enjoyed anytime soon as the problem seems to sink even deeper.

This isn’t the end of it – people (like John Paczkowski from AllThingsD) are expecting other Chinese carriers to follow suit and make similiar statements. Google just can’t seem to make friends these days. Apple… China… who is next? How about




  • Mike J B

    Ethics. Google would rather not do business in China than betray its basic principles for money. Leave such things to companies like Microsoft.

    Of course, Google complying with Australian web filtering law would be totally different. ;)

  • basschica

    Honestly, more companies should follow Google on this one. China has long pulled this kind of a game and if everyone else in the world would hold that level of ethics and morals, then China might actually reconsider their position. This is all the more reason for me to love Google. Good for them!

  • Khalid

    Bullshit. As much as I truly do like Google very much and use almost all of their services, I think that they pulled-out for a very different reason.

    They were gaining on Baidu. The Chinese market will ultimately be far bigger than the North American market. What happens when revenue from Chinese operations equals that of the rest of the world?
    China can tell them to block any site they don’t like, because they’d become reliant on that huge revenue.
    Every single time they do such a thing, the American media calls them out, mocks the ‘don’t be evil’ slogan and Americans start using Bing and stop loving Google.

    Google *had* to stick two fingers up to China and be forced out.

  • Al

    Hopefully Google will prove they really did it for ‘internet freedom’ by pulling out of Australia now that they have filtering turned on. Oh wait, they’re the biggest search engine in those countries. Business as usual I guess when you’re winning.

  • Vlad

    To all overestimating the “huge” market in China. It is not huge at all, because population of this country have little to none buying power. It’ll take them decades to climb to at least half of American buyer’s spending levels, and by that time the labor costs won’t stay cheep as it it right now. Now tell me Khalid, if people can’t buy stuff, will they pay much attention to the ads in a search engine?
    Google did the right thing, and I truly wish more companies followed. Jerks who break or sanction to break into people’s mail boxes must face the consequences.

  • http://www.omgandroid.com OMG Android App Reviews

    China are being unreasonable towards Google.

  • chinese gf no more

    thats it im breaking up with my Chinese girl friend!!!!

  • Khalid

    Right, so because the average Chinese consumer isn’t buying $5,000 TVs means they don’t buy anything?
    With nearly 5 times the population, there is a huge market. Sure, they might be spending one tenth what the average American is, but as the population starts to earn more and more and the population itself grows, whoever leads in China will make a lot of money. Ultimately for one dominant brand(with say 60-70% of the market) that could well be bigger than any revenue from North America, in time.

    It could be that I’m wrong, but that doesn’t happen that often.

  • http://gmail.com RANDY L

    @. Vlad: did you just woke up from a time machine back in the 50?

  • nickdeuva

    China is not the largest population in the world… India is. They surpassed China a few years back. I believe it’s something like 1.2 billion to 1.3+ billion.

  • Zahoor

    Vlad is right, china is still made up of poverty and rural villages that “live off the land” and don’t use technology. Only 27% of chinese actually live in the big cities where ppl buy things like phones and consumer goods etc…so google will be fine, the chinese will lose

  • Carig

    @nickdeuva

    No, it’s still China. India is 1.2 bil and China is 1.3 bil. India will surpass China pretty soon due to their population’s growth rate but they haven’t yet.
    Also in the context of this argument, China has is more advanced and definitely has more internet users.

  • Salient7

    We seem to be overlooking what initiated this move; the dangerous & intrusive hacking into critical infrastructures of Google with even more ominous implications to National vital systems. Time to circle the wagons and reinvest our technological leadership into home manufacturing & production capabilities. Kudos to Google for taking a stand, still plenty of profits to be made even without China.

  • Andreo

    It sounds like people (not the commentators)are saying Google is letting their morals get in the way of making a buck. I say good for them. I now have renewed faith in Google (not that I lost it to begin with). I only wish more companies would take the same stance.
    And don’t get me wrong. I like money. I really like money. But not at the cost of making me loose sleep.

  • Andrew

    Today I went to my Computer Science Alumni event at UBC, there I met a couple old classmates who had just returned from a short stint (2 yr) in Shanghai working for SAP, also met a current graduate student who came to Vancouver from SiChuan last September.

    I took the opportunity to ask their opinion on why Google left, and much to my surprise, they agreed that the real reason for abandoning the Chinese market is not about filtering results (since Google went to China to start their shop in 2006 by complying with the Chinese filtering rule, which is not something new in 2010), instead, the reason is that Google is being beaten badly by Baidu as a Internet Information Aggregator, Google thus risk giving away the image of “invincible aura” the longer they remain there getting its ass kicked by Baidu. Leaving or staying, either way Google stand to lose, and so they made a business decision to go with one that cause less damage.

  • Tony

    Vlad is right. Google revenue in china is only 1% of Google globe revenue.

  • tongju

    I use google a lot, it is useful. but I hate the way google did, do what they want even break the law.

  • tongju

    china and chinese dos not miss google, but someone would miss china’s market,anyway.

  • saqqara

    Good to see a company making an ethical stand for a change I just hope their resolve will hold. I will be watching to see who steps in to fill the void and if they cozy up with the chinese regime then I’ll happily boycott them. The integrity of the web is at stake here if governments want to oppress their people that’s one thing but using the web as a tool for that is not on.

    Later…
    Saqqara

  • N1

    @Andrew. Having been to China and have many friends in China, I can totally see why many Chinese keeps saying “Google gets out because they has been beaten badly”. This reason looks good on the surface because Baidu really has gain lots of traffic from Google. In addition, it’s also part of the Chinese govt propaganda to get people attention from the fact that their basic rights is violated whenever the govt wants.

    If you look at the history of Google (or many western companies) in China, you will understand why they are at a big disadvantage compared to domestic companies. The Chinese are known to court western companies to pour their investment and technology. They train the work force only to see them leave to form the domestic competitions. The govt give those domestic companies as much advantage as they can to eventually push out the foreign companies.

    Google is the extreme of this case since the Chinese govt want to control information to suppress dissents at all cost. The started with blocking Google, then attempt to route requests to google to baidu. This happens to me many times when I was in China, to the point of I cannot use Google to do anything meaningful. In addition, Chinese govt are extremely strict with foreign companies while letting the domestic competitions getting away with murder. Do you know one of the big reason why Baidu can gain users so fast is because they offer mp3 search for mostly pirated music. The Chinese govt will not do anything to Baidu, to the extent of ruling against Chinese music maker. Of course, foreign companies like Google are afraid of offering the same service, rightfully because Chinese court won’t protect them.

    This kind of discrimination happens over and over, to the point that it’s extremely hard to do business in China. So getting beat by Baidu is part of the effect of the unfairness practices of the govt and domestic companies. It one of the reason along the way, but not the root reason why Google finally has enough and start defying Chinese govt. As the result, almost everyone involved lost (just like in a war). Google losing some business potential, Chinese govt losing some international goodwill, but most of all, Chinese people rights continue to be violated (whether they see it or not). Only Baidu is gaining at the moment, but Chinese advertisers actually hates seeing monopolies like this.

    You can believe in whatever reasons you want. But Google is at least better than other companies (ie. MSFT) in attempting to standup for principles. I wish more people/companies/countries are more willing to standup like this. That would make it harder bad people/govt to violate other’s rights, making the world a better place, one act at a time.

  • V2

    @N1. It is so refreshing to finally read a post from somebody with brains and not on the payroll of Chinese goverement.

  • MensahWatts

    @ Andreo…at this point it seems as if the whole story is a little cloudy…however If it went down the way you think it did-then I agree with your statment 100

  • Anthony

    I very much enjoyed reading all of your thoughts and opinions from Khalid, Vlad, N1, to Andrew and everyone else who posted. It is not good what is happening in communist china. The question I have is “Was Is it ethical for Google to be in china?” and “Was it ethical for google to move out, ?” – Hong Kong, across island so they can still be in some parts of china. I would like a clear understanding in this. Thank you all..

  • Andrew

    @V2 – the way you react to any comment/idea that does not fit in neatly with your reality and therefore has to be coming from someone who is “on the payroll of Chinese government” is best described as magical thinking. You will do well with filter that blocks out all contrary thoughts to your existing framework, since you already have a very good mental filter in place to complement it.

    (with such a filter, you won’t see me typing this: 9-11 is perpetrated and covered up by two successively democratically elected administrations of yours. Government killing its own citizens is surely not limited to communist governments. And yours do it for no good reason, now isn’t it nice? Oops, now you can’t unsee that)

    @N1 – at least the Chinese government doesn’t kill its own people as a pretext to invade other countries, like in 9-11. Chinese government gets one vote from me as long as they don’t commit any crime on that massive scale. It’s all empty “moral” talk from you and the likes until your government can come clean with 9-11 and its perpetrators no longer roam freely in your country. Chinese people know how to deal with hypocrite when they see one.

  • M5

    To all who can’t see beneath the surface narrative:

    Are you sure it’s only the Chinese government? 確定只有中國政府這麼做嗎?

    Google has been providing your private browsing data to the US governments (plural because these include the states and the federal) for years…..
    谷歌早已為美國各級政府提供私人上網記錄多年。

    The only difference is that the Chinese government tells their people not to do it up front, so they don’t have to deal with you,…..while the US governments are trying to find out who you are so they can hunt you down later………
    唯一不同的是,中國政府不給你亂來也不想知道是誰想亂來。
    而美國政府讓你亂來,好把你揪出來。

    Just different approaches that’s all, folks. Maybe you enjoy the US approach, however that’s not an excuse to point a finger at others. 換湯不換藥的 傻B們

    Google is promoting themselves by degrading the Chinese government, because they are losing their business to Baidu in China…….just like the auto industry war to Japan back in the 80s
    谷歌大張旗鼓的把中國政府的專制告訴世界卻不提到美國政府,只因為在中國網路市場上贏不了百度罷了。跟80年代與日本的汽車工業戰一樣的作法。

  • Oh well

    Andrew, do you need to change the topic when your ridiculous claims are refuted ? Of course Baidu is favoured over Google, of course they pirated from Google, and yes they offer illegal mp3 downloads as well as rig search results. Most Chinese know that, your claims that Baidu is better than Google is laughed at by every knowledgable Internet user.