All large companies that target a broad spectrum of consumers and are active around the world need to be present in China. With a potential consumer base of 1.36 billion, this is an opportunity that no company can avoid. Not Google. Here is the story of what happened.
Created in 1998 by two students from Stanford University (California), Google is the leader in the search engine market with Google Search. It is the most widely used search engine in the US with a market share of 60%. Across the Western world, it has a similar market share.
In 2005, it established a fully owned subsidiary in China. In Jan. 2006, Google launched its China-based google.cn search engine, with results subject to censorship by the Chinese government.
By early 2009, its market share in China was 78%, with Baidu trailing at 18%. It was well positioned to capitalize on the Chinese market.
In March 2009 China blocked access to Google’s YouTube site due to footage showing violent images in Tibet. Access to other Google online services was also denied to users.
In January 2010 Google announced that, in response to a Chinese-originated hacking attack on them and other US technology companies, they were no longer willing to censor searches in China and would pull out of the country completely if necessary.
By April 2010, searching via all Google search sites in all languages was temporarily banned in mainland China, without affecting Google Map or Google Mail.
Baidu is the Chinese market leader in search engine. Source: http://www.baidu.com
In November 2012, China had blocked access to Google. All Google domains, including Google search, Gmail, Google Maps, YouTube, etc., became inaccessible.
By 2014, in response to a series of terrorist attacks, China tightened its Internet censorship.
Google’s Gmail, Chrome, Map, YouTube and Google-based search inquiries have not been available to mainland China users since 2014. However, Google has maintained that it would continue with the research and development offices in China along with the sales offices for other Google products such as Android smartphone software.
Youku online video service. Source: www.youku.com
By mid-2015, Baidu dominated the market of search engines with a share of 55%, followed by Haosou at 26% and Suogo at 10%. No western company had any meaningful market share in the search engine market in China. The same happened with online videos, where YouTube was replaced by iQiyi and Youku, which are key players in this market.