The latest development in Google’s potential return to China came to light on October 15 when CEO Sundar Pichai spoke at Wired’s 25th-anniversary summit.
Pichai discussed his thoughts on the company's interest in China saying, “It’s been many years we’ve been out of the market, it’s a wonderful, innovative market. We wanted to learn what it would look like if Google were in China.” Pichai, with a clear business interest in the Chinese market, addressed a key issue many against the plan often bring up – Internet restrictions. “To operate in China, what would it look like? What queries would we be able to serve? It turns out we’d be able to serve well over 99 percent of the queries and there are many areas where we would be able to provide information better than what’s available.” While 99 percent is a deceivingly high grade, in regards to Internet searches, that equates to a whole lot of unserved queries. According to Internet Live Stats, Google processes over 3.5 billion search queries a day (1 percent equalling 35 million searches).
So far, the plan to move back into the heavily censored market has drawn criticism from the company’s employees, according to CNN. So much, in fact, that over 1,000 Google employees signed a letter demanding more transparency after the company revealed a secret project, codenamed 'dragonfly,' exploring how Google's search engine could operate in China.
Since the world’s favorite search bar pulled out of the Chinese Internet query market in 2010, competitors like Microsoft’s Bing and Baidu search have been able to expand their market share; however, neither company has performed well enough to make Chinese Internet users forget about the high-powered, informative search engine of yesteryear. With 310,000 followers on Google’s official Weibo platform, the company has maintained a relatively strong presence on the Chinese mainland.
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Weibo users are excited about the news, with one person commenting, “Welcome back, I believe even the stripped-down version of Google will perform better than the current ad selling frenzy that is Baidu. More importantly, the competition will stimulate progress.” Another user wrote, “I can’t wait, once [Google] comes back I can abandon Baidu.”
Hold your horses, people. From what we can gather, any possible comeback is still a ways off.
[Cover image via Wikimedia]