Google Search and Maps take a pounding in China
Govt restrictions and local rivals undermine Android advantage
Google is sinking without a trace in China, according to market-watchers who now place it fourth in the domestic search market and claim its Maps service tumbled to sixth position after a near double figures percentage decline.
The Chocolate Factory was struggling for market share even before its well-publicised post-Operation Aurora spat with the Chinese authorities in 2010.
Local rival Baidu made the most of it when Google decided to re-locate its search servers to Hong Kong, outside the Great Firewall, and it has found the going tough ever since.
The web giant now sits a lowly fourth in the Chinese search market in both page views and unique visitors, with a little over 4.5 per cent, according to October stats from CNZZ (via Marbridge Daily).
Baidu is way out in front with around 73 per cent, with Chinese web firms Sogou (7.8 per cent) and Qihoo 360 (9.7 per cent) in between.
It is Qihoo’s rapid rise since it burst onto the search scene in the northern summer that has done most to hurt Google’s share.
The firm was a key partner for Google but then dropped the US giant from its hugely popular portal site hao.360.cn as the default search option and replaced it with its own so.360.cn service.
The decision to locate its datacentre outside China means Google searches from inside the Great Firewall can be inconsistent and unreliable, with users often presented with error messages – another reason to go with the local, albeit self-censoring, search service providers.
To improve the user experience it recently rolled out a Communist Party-baiting tool designed to alert users if a search keyword is likely to cause censorship, and therefore connection, issues.
On the mobile mapping side, Q3 stats from Beijing-based Analysys International saw Google Maps tumble from second to sixth place, dropping from a share of 17.5 per cent to just 9 per cent.
Apple’s decision to drop Google Maps from iOS6 in favour of its own client can’t have helped matters.
The mapping market could get even tougher for Google in the near future thanks to strict new proposed regulations and the imminent arrival of yet more local competition.
The authorities recently announced proposals which would increase fines for providers failing to include territorial outposts on their maps, and mandate that all online map providers locate their datacentres within China.
Meanwhile, reports have emerged that local web giants Baidu, Tencent and others are currently developing their own rival mapping services.
Given Android’s huge success in China – it accounts for over 70 per cent of the market according to Analysys – it’s somewhat ironic that Google isn’t able to capitalise better in promoting its services.
However, it is Chinese web service providers that are gaining the most from the OS, with local OEM's often pre-installing their offerings on handsets in favour of Google's.
This has given the web giant no option in the short term but to try and contain Android’s Chinese forks, such as Alibaba’s Aliyun, according to a recent Ovum report.
“The Maps issue is an extension of Google's broader problems in China,” Ovum analyst Shiv Putcha told The Reg. “They are unable to get the foothold they have in other markets since Android isn't working the way it should for them in China. In fact, Android is helping the local ecosystem but not Google.”
Gartner analyst Sandy Shen added that Google simply hasn't been committed enough to China in the past.
"By contrast, many local vendors focus solely on China, and have made continuous investments in product development, partnerships, distribution and promotions. So it is no surprise that Google keeps declining," she told El Reg. ®
Re: music to my ears
China is happy that the rest of the world is open to buy stuff made in China, but does not believe in competition any more when it is about foreign companies that want to enter its market ?
I believe some kind of regulation should be used to cope with Google monopoly, but what we have here is a convergence of interest of the Chinese Internet companies and the government's need of censorship.
music to my ears
i am glad to see google fail in China, and i think the Chinese people are lucky their lives arent being run by google. it seems that westerners have become enslaved by google, and they are all being tracked, and having their privacy violated by google. the absence of google only means that Chinese people can make their own internet, and be truly independent, something that no other country is able to do, with the exception of Russia. thats the only country that i know that has its own search engine. i am sure there are other independent nations that have too, and i would like to learn about them. i have also checked out a lot of the search engines and maps made by Chinese enterprises, and i think they are quite good, and much more suited for the Chinese user. they have some services on their websites that i have never seen on any american map or search engine. you can look up some Chinese maps on Chinese sites, and it will tell you how much the property at that location is worth. and if you do a search for a restraunt in an area, the map will also tell you the approximate cost of the meals there. the same goes for hotels. now if China allowed themselves to be dominated by google, as most countries have, then i dont think any of this would be possible, and you would find a lot of Chinese i.t. people out of work.
wikipedia is loaded with disinformation. it's not reliable. again, i would like to see China develop its own encyclopedia as opposed to using the american one. actually, China already has its own, and the information is much more accurate.