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Google To Suspend Mobile Phone Launch In China 172

An anonymous reader tips news that Google has decided to delay the launch of two mobile phones in China after the recent censorship conflict with the Chinese government. The phones were developed with Samsung and Motorola, and both of them run Android. A related article in BusinessWeek wonders whether Google's new stance on censorship will halt the progress Android is making in China, the world's largest mobile market. "The country was well on its way to helping Google exploit Android. Chinese handset makers such as Huawei and ZTE have been some of the earliest supporters of the upstart operating system. China Mobile already sells its own version of an Android-based phone system called OPhone. Motorola is making a big push into the Chinese market with smartphones based on the Android OS. And China's Lenovo has developed numerous Android-based products, including the LePhone. Any undue pressure from the establishment would mean that most of these companies would have to abandon Android in favor of other mobile operating environments."
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Google To Suspend Mobile Phone Launch In China

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  • Re:in Japan... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FuckingNickName ( 1362625 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @10:15AM (#30818750) Journal

    Pointing out the strength of the Chinese in the world economy and making comparisons to other far Eastern nations in recent history is not off topic. This isn't a question of withdrawing from some random authoritarian state which needs Google investment and expertise, this is about getting into a spat with the largest manufacturing centre in the world, without which we wouldn't all have the cheap PCs and mobile devices that give Google such a market.

    Consider where China could be in the next 20 or 30 years if it starts to adopt Western discipline in intellectual property. It has already got this far without abandoning many of its restrictive principles. Moreover, great advancement has been achieved in many centralised states... never mind, this would be implying that the Google capitalistic hero of the day is not inevitably going to win for life, so I'm fighting a losing battle.

  • by Chrisq ( 894406 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @10:15AM (#30818754)
    They have to be careful. After all the android is open source and China certainly has the capability of making their own mobile phones []. If they don't sell in China, China could just make its own Android, and use the economies of scale to export it to the West too. This threat is a bit like a Scotsman saying he won't sell his whiskey in Nashville
  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @10:26AM (#30818840) Homepage Journal

    Google needs China more than China needs Google.

    But in reality, China doesn't need Google, and Google doesn't need China.

    I for one am thankful to see anyone not tuck tail and say Thank You Sir May I Have Another when China kicks them in the balls.

    Google's rep and their Do No Evil took a major hit recently with concessions to China, and Google had basically said this is IT this is as far as we will go, and China just continued to push it, and Google has finally had enough and is playing hardball. Good for them, have at it.

    Someone needed to teach China that just because they're the biggest single market in the world doesn't mean they dictate the laws that the rest of the world has to follow. In that respect China is no better than a monopolistic company, that's abusing its monopoly position.

  • by L4t3r4lu5 ( 1216702 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @10:48AM (#30819088)
    The world worked fine before China got industrialised and made all of our stuff using cheap labour and materials by exploiting the oppressed workforce.

    Let's go back to home-grown industry and leave China to destroy themselves. Our respective economies could do with the business.
  • by Tharsis ( 7591 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @11:47AM (#30819844)

    It's actually a pretty scary idea that google thinks it has enough power to change the governing policy of one of the biggest countries in the world.

    This has not been shown to be the case. I'm sorry, but you can't have it both ways. Does Google put their foot down, or don't they? Do they give into the local laws and help oppress, or don't they? I don't see Google invading China with corporate armies, or hacking Chinese government systems, or subverting Chinese government employees here.

    Well, I'm sorry, but if a company wants to operate in a country, it should abide by its laws, otherwise it's a criminal organization. It's not up to that company to change the government, it's up to the people that live in the country. There are more ways than those you mention for a company to force its wishes on a government (MS has used some).
    I'm not saying I agree with what China is doing. But I also don't think it a good idea to force my ideas of freedom on them, if there's anything that causes chaos in a country it's sudden changes like that. I'd say China has been doing a pretty good job of slowly creating a more free country.

    A country cannot work if they have to change their laws according to the wishes of a company.

    No, but a company is made up of people, and in a democracy, those people have a say in how the country is run, along with every other citizen. Perhaps you don't live in a country with a democratic form of government, or you don't value the freedom of each voice being heard. However, in the United States, we do value these things.

    I do value these things (and I do live in a democratic country) but I do not have the wisdom to say that it is better than all other forms of government, and neither do you unless you've lived in them. Basically what I'm saying is that it should be the people that change a country, not an outside company. Where's the democracy in an outside company forcing a change.

    But in the end it still comes down to one question: should Google support China's repressive government, or not? If you condemn them either way, you are a hypocrite. And you'll have to make a really, really good case for "should support repression" as being "not evil".

    Stop thinking so binary. Just because one is "evil" doesn't mean the other is "good". There are a lot more options than the ones you mention.

  • Re:Gibson was right (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ThrowAwaySociety ( 1351793 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:03PM (#30820092)

    You may have missed a whole series of antitrust cases in EU and US...

    That's the point. In every other case of government-corporate head butting, the corporation may have complained loudly (sometimes in court) but never before has one just said, "No, we won't play by your rules."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:07PM (#30820164)
    Apparently, China is now extremely limiting the Avatar run in China. [] Depending on whose version you believe, it is either due to China saying that it competes too much with their local films, or it is too close to home with the protests against the gov. for taking land for commercial buildings. Basically, we have a trade war starting in which SOME companies are having enough of the Chinese gov running rough shod on them, while the Chinese gov. continues to ignore their legal agreements to get into the WTO, and then to stay in there as well.

    Time to drop their MFN with America and hopefully with the west.
  • by orlanz ( 882574 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:24PM (#30820406)

    It's actually a pretty scary idea that google thinks it has enough power to change the governing policy of one of the biggest countries in the world.

    Come on, is it really that scary? I mean we got the farm, auto, finance, telco, and security industries doing this every day over here and we are more scared of the mythical terrorist. Its about time one of our industries (search) starts poking at someone else left with a spine... even if they end up losing a finger.

    I think we are all making this seem FAR bigger than it actually is. A company has reassessed the risk profile of an environment and found it to be not suitable to justify continuing operations. Said company is looking at mitigating some of the risk. If it doesn't work out, the company will revisit the _idea_ of discontinuing operations. Losing China will not be that big a deal to Google as the environment was against it in the first place.

  • by MrMarket ( 983874 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:31PM (#30820464) Journal
    Step 1: Start a JV with a non-controlling stake in China Step 2: Hand over all of your intellectual property Step 3: ???? Step 4: Profit China is a red herring, because outsiders do not win. The companies that realize this sooner and move on to other markets like India and Brazil/South America will be better off in the long run.
  • by Symbha ( 679466 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:52PM (#30820766)

    Small correction:
    China is not the biggest single market in the world.
    The US is still the biggest market in the world.

    The Chinese market is the biggest emerging market, but isn't close to the US market, per capita, or otherwise. [] []

  • Re:Gibson was right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rich0 ( 548339 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2010 @12:59PM (#30820872) Homepage

    A big part of that is not having a local presence - which you can get away with web-based apps (unless you take local advertising dollars - unless said dollars are paid directly to you overseas).

    Suppose I provided a purely web-based service (news, search, something that involves nothing more than packets over the internet). I take payment in advance by some method which does not rely on infrastructure outside of my own country. Maybe I deposit checks, or maybe I use US credit cards (for a US company), or I take cash mailed in envelopes - whatever. My business is completely supported by my local government (it is legal, no politicians want to take extra-legal steps to shut me down, etc). Let's also assume that as the CEO/owner I never leave my own country.

    If I operate this way, then there is nothing anybody can do about my business operating in their country, except try to block access or persecute their own citizens who are my customers. If my search page returns nazi images on wikipedia or whatever, the Germans can't do a thing about it. They can of course try me in absentia and find me guilty, but they have no power to punish me.

    Now, they can do things like order local banks not to honor checks made out to me, or local credit card companies to deny payments to me. If they have the technical means they can try to firewall me. However, if one of their citizens opens a bank account in a foreign bank and uses it to pay me, there is not much they can do about it (except punish my customers).

    In China's case, they have the great firewall, and punishing their own people is something that doesn't really give them concerns. So, in this case they can do something about it - but only inside their own borders. They can't touch Google itself at all, unless they convince the US government to play ball.

Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.