Google is working on a censored Chinese search app
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Google is working on a censored Chinese search app

Silicon Valley titan Google has been privately working on a Chinese search app that conforms to the country’s strict censorship regulations. Many at Google, who say the move contradicts values over freedom of information that sit at its core, are unhappy. But it’s easy to see why the company wants to expand into the world’s largest Ecommerce market, and CEO Sundar Pichai has long struck a more pragmatic tone over the country than founders Page and Brin.

Google’s share price has risen by 17% year to date

graph 0308 google

SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

Google’s app will be called Dragonfly, and it has proved divisive within the company. However, Chinese internet goers have taken a more nuanced view, with one commenting on an article that westerners debating whether the Chinese population should have access to a censored Google “feels somehow like men debating regulating women’s bodies.”

Pichai, for his part, has been resolute about his interest in China. Two years ago at the Code Conference he told listeners: "Google is for everyone. We want to be in China serving Chinese users." And in March he opened an AI lab in Beijing, where he said he was “looking forward to expanding” research efforts in the country.

However, has Google been gone too long? Chinese giant Baidu has the search market tied up at present. Brock Silvers, managing director of Kaiyuan Capital in Shanghai, said: “While Google was blocked, China’s market continued to develop. Google may now set aside principle in exchange for Chinese market access, but it seems unlikely to dominate.”

Disclosure

Dominion holds Baidu in its Global Trends Managed Fund as well as Alphabet (the parent company of Google) in its Global Trends Ecommerce Fund.


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