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Why did Google do it?

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14 January 2010 11:23

The TechCrunch post I referred to yesterday was not an isolated piece of scepticism about Google's threats to withdraw from China. Dan Drezner has some other examples, and some Chinese netizens also seem convinced that Google is acting for commercial reasons rather than out of concern for free speech.

But while it is true that Google's market share slipped to 17% by the end of last year, that coincided with a full 42% year on year net increase to 2008 in the number of Chinese net users, making China the largest online population in the world. What's more, the Chinese spend more of their time online than people in the West. Even now that the number of Chinese web users exceeds the entire US population, the percentage is still quite low, with massive potentional for continued growth. 

If Google was going to shut down its Chinese operation for commercial reasons, wouldn't they do it as quietly as possible to leave open the possibility of re-entering the market at a more favourable time?

Photo by Flickr user hunxue-er, used under a Creative Commons license.

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