Google in China
The web is abuzz with the story that Google may abandon its presence in China. The news started when Google SVP David Drummond wrote about how Google identified hacking of accounts belonging to Chinese activists. The western response has been predictable:
- Thanking Google for standing up for human rights
- Claiming that this gives Google the excuse to close an unsuccessful Chinese division
If Google really wants to stand up for human rights, they should maintain their presence. Google gives a real alternative to the official Chinese presence on the Internet. Google gives a number of tools such as Blogger and Gmail that let activists communicate their perspective on human rights with Chinese citizens and the rest of the world.
And if Google is using this as an excuse to close an unsuccessful Chinese division, that’s a bad business decision. It doesn’t matter whether Google has the top position in terms of market share. The only thing that matters is whether the Chinese division of Google is profitable for the company. I don’t have any inside information, but I would be surprised if it isn’t profitable. In comparison, Apple Mac computers have a small market share – especially outside the USA. But the Mac is a profitable product for Apple, and Apple isn’t going to stop selling them simply because it has less than 10% global market share.
Shame on Google. It’s a bad decision from both a humanitarian and a business perspective.
P.S. I realize that Google may need to close the China office to protect its employees. Perhaps, but they could always maintain a Chinese site through offices in Taiwan, Singapore or even Mountain View.