China Balks At Google Android Gift
By Tony Clark, 2-Dooz Inc. – March 15, 2013 (Original Publication Date)
Alluded to by Homer in the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey” and chronicled by Virgil in the “Aeneid,” the Trojan Horse was the centerpiece of the decisive strategy used by the Greeks to defeat the Trojans in ancient times. Fast-forward to today: Google would love to use the same strategy, vis-à-vis Android, to reverse its business fortunes in China, but their Chinese competitors apparently have other ideas.
Google has seen a precipitous decline in its search market share in China since it butted heads with the Chinese government over censorship issues in 2010. Meanwhile, search leader Baidu and upstart Qihou are currently dominating the spotlight because of their ongoing, head-to-head battle for control of the country. Still, there is good news for Google and with it a sliver of hope.
As reported by “Tech In Asia,” there are 390 million mobile Internet users in China and 140 million of these users are using Android-powered smart phones. With such impressive numbers, one could think that Google would be able to leverage the growing strength of Android to improve its business position in the country. However, as reported by research firm Informa, “not all Android phones sold in China necessarily comply with the full Google ecosystem; in fact, 41% of these devices support alternative application frameworks from the likes of Baidu, Alibaba, Xiaomi, Tencent, Wandoujia, Anzhi and other locally-based channels.”
What this technically means is that Google’s search, maps, and Play Store, for example, are not default features. Therefore, in spite of the dominance of Android, Google is unable to fully leverage the operating system to significantly increase its revenue in China.
The reality appears to be that Android, unlike the Greek’s Trojan Horse, is not being embraced by the Chinese with open arms. Clearly, it is time for Google to move to its next plan for China. Perhaps a Yahoo style Alibaba investment would bare more fruit. It will be interesting to see if Google Ventures makes this one of their 2013 priorities.
Those are my thoughts. And, as always, I invite and look forward to learning what you think.