China: The issues of online news

Reading this morning’s FT update on Twitter, I was eventually led to an analytical article of the Chinese Internet censorship issue on the Huffington Post. The angles on this topic are typically a) technology led or b) focussing on the human rights factor, especially for local bloggers.  This article points out that censorship is actually hurting Google’s market share, by forcing it to offer an inferior information medium. It is explained thus:

You can see the damaging effects of censorship on competition in the Internet industry if you look at the dramatic shift in market leadership. In 2002, when the Internet market was in its infancy, Google had a 24% share of the Chinese search market as compared with then-upstart Baidu, which had a mere 3% share. By August 2008, Google, which has a dominant share of the U.S. market, had been reduced to just 19% of the Chinese search market while Baidu had 65%. This certainly wasn’t a result of Baidu delivering a superior product — rather, Chinese government censors forced Google to provide an inferior product with a much less robust search engine.

I believe there could be a potential backlash from the Chinese populace with time, if their exponentially growing Internet population becomes more savvy about what is happening to them.  However, it’s definitely not something we’ll be seeing in the near future if this report is anything to go by.


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