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January 18, 2007

Comments

Joel

Did you mean: squelch?

Tan Yan Chen

I think you've raised many good points about Google and Baidu, but I tend to believe that Chinese internet users are pretty practical and it's not really about censorship.

Holistically speaking, Google is by far the better engine, but it does not offer the content that Baidu does exactly because Google is working under U.S. standards and abiding by copyright laws. Baidu allows its users to search for mp3s very effectively by offering direct links to music files on private servers, which are most likely illegal copies. Baidu has been sued many times for copyright infringement, yet the music search is still available and drawing many hits.

Google can't really overcome that because as you said, the Chinese government will not protect it; and in fact is limiting it by imposing censorship laws. And as the article and Google's House testimony have said, Google already attempted not to censor, which blocked it out of the Chinese market entirely.

I think the metaphor I would use is an honest adult with his hands tied behind his back competing against a sneaky kid who can throw sand in his eyes, with the help of another adult. Maybe being upright and having an ethical business model will get Google more respect, but respect won't necessarily translate into hits in China, unfortunately. I think there are many legal and regulation issues with Google competing in China aside from censorship, like protectionism, copyrights, etc., which all work in Baidu's favor.

Although that's not to say Google can't eventually prevail. We can always hope.

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