Reports of Google’s launch of a search in China
Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google, according to an August report from The Intercept, has been facing criticism over secretly creating a search engine called Project Dragonfly to launch in China (MCHI) (FXI). Also, more than a thousand Google employees have signed a letter criticizing the company for this secretive search engine that would comply with Chinese censorship. The employees raised concerns over Google’s ethics and called for more transparency by the company.
Google’s expansion plans in China
Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai referred to the criticism at an internal meeting on August 16. It was shared with CNBC that the company has been looking to expand its services in China and is exploring options to do that. But currently, the company has no plans to launch a search app in China.
Pichai told employees that launching a potential Chinese search engine is difficult since the country has stringent rules and technical hurdles for foreign companies. He also stated that a search engine for China couldn’t beat the local rivals.
Earlier, Google had a search service in China but was shut down in 2010 amid concerns over censorship and cyberattacks. At that time, Google had less than a 30% market share compared to local giant Baidu (BIDU) with a 76% share. According to StatCounter, Baidu holds ~74% of the search engine market share in China, while Google has only 1.69%. Microsoft’s (MSFT) Bing has a 1.05% share.
The tensions between China and the United States due to trade conflicts have made it even more difficult for Google to get approval for its censored search product from China’s local authorities.