Google’s Sparring Partner Flexes Its Muscles

Imagine a world without Google.

GooglecnThis might soon become a reality for our friends in China. After months of sparring about censorship, privacy, author’s rights and cyber attacks, it appears Google has had enough.

According to the Financial Times, there is a 99% chance Google will pull out of China in the very near future. This latest development comes after the search engine company continued to publicly air its frustrations over filtering search results. The Chinese government demands it. Google refuses. Somewhere in the middle is the U.S. government, trying to smooth things over. Chances for a meeting of the minds between two stubborn giants is becoming more and more remote.

The Financial Times also reported on Friday that detailed closure plans have been made to cease operations of Google.cn, the search engine service in China. Meanwhile, the  Chinese minister for industry and information technology declared that any further acts by Google that “violate Chinese laws, that would be unfriendly, that would be irresponsible, and they would have to bear the consequences.”

Imagine if 30% of the search engine traffic suddenly redirected elsewhere. It very well might happen. That is Google China’s approximate share at the moment. Seems a little earth-shattering, doesn’t it? Just cut out 1/3 of that pie. Poof!

While good for the other companies servicing the Chinese Internet population, you have to wonder what this will do to those customers that went absolutely ape over Google Buzz about a month ago. Apparently, there were more pictures of ladies in bathing suits sent through Buzz in a week than Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue could ever hope to publish. Then poof! It’s gone.

This just begs the question: Can the government drive away something that was so popular among Chinese customers without creating unrest and unhappiness? Dare there be any retaliation? Unfortunately, there are no answers at the moment, but we will likely get them very soon. Stay tuned.

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