Google announced on its company blog that Chinese hackers had attacked its users and as a result Google.CN may leave China due to the security breaches.
While unfortunate that Google.CN may be shutting down, my ethnographic work in China revealed five things that aren’t being told in the current story:
- Many Chinese internet users don’t find Google to be very useful. Therefore, a Google withdrawal would not have any immediate impact on the daily Chinese internet user because most people search with Baidu, the reigning search engine in China.
- Many Chinese internet users prefer Baidu over Google because using Baidu makes them feel more “Chinese.” Baidu does an excellent job at tapping into nationalistic fervor to promote itself as being the most superior search engine for Chinese users.
- Chinese internet users don’t know how to get to the Google site. While they may “know” of Google, it’s a whole other matter when it comes to typing or saying Google’s name.
- Google is primarily used by highly educated netizens. And even these users prefer Google.COM over Google.CN.
- Google is not successful at reaching the mobile internet market.
Josh says: Great post by Tricia about Google’s current failure to dominate the market of Chinese internet users. This is well worth reading and understanding for anyone interested in tailoring web services for international users. This is difficult and requires deep cultural understanding, even for companies like Google!