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Google to China: Adiós?

Google’s all over Google News, more than usual. A handful of big stories you should know about including some related to phones but I’ll go with the censorship fight for now, an update on Chinagate which has heated up substantially in the past few days. To offer you the gist of this right now, just look at that guy for a moment.

Google said today that while neither side has thrown in the towel completely yet that they and China reached an impasse. Google declared that they are withdrawing from the business of censorship, China declared that they shall follow the rules or leave town. “If Google takes steps that violate Chinese laws, that would be unfriendly, that would be irresponsible and they would have to bear the consequences,” their minister for industry and IT warned Friday. And if they do leave, according to an insightful and poetic Beijing, “the planet won’t stop spinning because Google leaves and Chinese Internet users will remain online without Google.”

Nothing you haven’t already heard, however this time the smart money suggests it’s really going to happen with Baidu shares jumping over 6% and Google down over 3% today precipitated by the ramped-up rhetoric. According to the Financial Times, “Google has drawn up detailed plans for the closure of its Chinese search engine and is now ‘99.9%’ certain to go ahead as talks over censorship with the Chinese authorities have reached an apparent impasse,” according to an unnamed Google insider. To try to tie this into phones for you, if you go to Beijing on Google Maps with the Google Buzz layer enabled, you’ll see that a lot of people are buzzing, people who would be very said not to be able to keep buzzing were their leaders not so obsessed with saving face which is by the way what they’re all about. Saving face and trying to hack into my server, that is.

I mentioned this to my old man yesterday. In spite of having a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (where he also taught), he knows virtually nothing of technology so his reaction, that of a layman, was intriguing to me. He said he admired Google’s stance, noting that it was a rare thing for any company, especially a public company, to exercise their beliefs at the probable expense of money and prospects of a lot more money and that in spite of this he’d be more inclined to invest in such a company.

Me too, Dad.

Doug Simmons