Google is making a slow comeback in China — in more ways that one. Earlier this month Google CFO Patrick Pichette was quoted in The Times of London suggesting that Google would “return” to China in a more forceful way in the not-too-distant future. The company stopped censoring its results last year and started redirecting Google.cn to the uncensored Google.com.hk.
Pichette is quoted in The Times (via Fox Business) saying, “China has 1.2 billion people. For Google to say, ‘We’re going to live on our mission, but not serve 1.2 billion people’ — it just doesn’t work. China wants Google.”
It appears that 23.1 percent of Chinese search users want Google, to be precise. That number reflects modest 1.5 percent growth from Q3 to Q4 according to Analysys International, a research firm that follows the Chinese search market. That figure is down from a high of 35.6 percent a year ago, before Google announced it’s new “uncensored” policy and said it would pull out of China. Baidu’s share is roughly 72 percent. Previously, it was reported that Google has an 8.9 percent share of the Chinese advertising market, behind Baidu and portal Alibaba.
China is the world’s largest internet market with almost 400 million users, nearly double the US internet audience. There are also roughly 600 million mobile phone users in China, more than double the US mobile market. Yesterday Apple announced in its Q1 earnings call that its China stores generated the highest average revenue of any of its retail outlets, with “Greater China” (incl. Taiwan) exceeding $2.6 billion.
China is just too big a market for Google to stay away it seems. As Al Pacino said in Godfather III, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
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