Google’s Android failure in China is another setback for the search company

“As China edges past the U.S. as the world’s largest smartphone market, the rise of the Android mobile operating system should be a huge success story for Google, which developed and maintains Android,” Jessica Leber reports for MIT Technology Review. “”

“In China, cheaper Android devices have exploded past Apple’s phones in the last three years, and now account for more than three-quarters of shipments,” Leber reports. “But what’s often overlooked is how little Google itself is benefiting from Android’s growth in China. Most Android devices sold in China have been stripped of Google’s advertising-supported apps and services, as well as its Google Play store for third-party apps and music, books, and video. That means the devices are missing the two main ways by which the U.S. Web giant brings in revenue from the free Android operating system. The CEO of Baidu, the desktop Web search leader in China, said this year that 80 percent of Android-branded phones come with Baidu’s search service, rather than Google’s, loaded on the device… [Google] significantly scale[d] back its operations in 2010 when it took its search business out of the country in a stand against the Chinese government’s censorship.”

Leber reports, “Because Google no longer has servers in China, Google Play and Google Web search aren’t particularly useful to people there. Google Play suffers from bad connectivity, and the Web search is routed through Hong Kong… And its mobile mapping service has fallen from popularity in part because the service is poor and has been infrequently updated while Google has been waiting for the Chinese government to approve a necessary license. That’s in stark contrast to Apple, which tightly controls its devices—and hasn’t battled with the Chinese government over censorship. It was able to simply remove Google Maps from its phones in China in favor of its own new map service, just as it did elsewhere around the world this year.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It’s okay to take a principled stand against censorship and it’s also okay to steal patented intellectual property and churn out knockoffs of iconic products created by a former close partner upon whose Board of Directors your CEO once sat.

Ah, the curious dichotomy of doing no evil.


  1. not to mention that the Chinee are forking Android to even better monitor the goings ons of its citizens.

    It will be interesting to see if their handset ever goes on sale outside of China. You may recall the recent alert about the backdoor loaded handsets of Huawei:


  2. ” Google asserted that Alibaba borrowed heavily from Android’s code without offering sufficient compatibility with apps built for Android devices. Its app store contained pirated Google apps, said Andy Rubin”
    – I’m still laughing at this one!
    The thief says, “Hey, don’t steal from ME!”

  3. It shouldn’t be a problem if these companies change the name. That is the only stipulation from Google that I know of, if you make changes that alter certain aspects you can’t call it android. Its all spelled out in the licensing.

    Android is open source and anyone is well within their rights to fork the source, use it as a base for something entirely different or build on top of it. Its one of the really awesome things about open source.

    Its pretty simple and clear cut when it comes down to it.

  4. mdn take is off quite a bit here. there is no dichotomy of doing no evil.

    a true idealist believes the ideology trumps right and wrong. so if you are not in tune with “their” ideology, you just won’t get it.

    google’s ideology is not inconsistent as mdn suggests. while do no evil may be a sub-ideology about bridging government intervention/censorship in pursuit of a free internet, the fundamental ideology is a “free” internet. Don’t take “do no evil” too broadly and out of context. that’s what political pundits do. if you think it through, google doesn’t think they stole apple’s technology, they were sharing it with the rest of the world in pursuit of an open and free internet. this is consistent with their business model of monetary gain from this basic ideology, not the monetary gain from stealing the technology, just like robin hood can be romanticized to make stealing look good. google has convinced itself of the same thing. this explains why the principled stand against china’s censorship is consistent with stealing ios technology. from a business standpoint, google probably sees that is is not going to be able to trump the chinese government’s relationship with baidu. this is not the end of the story with google and china. just a chapter.

    1. “google doesn’t think they stole apple’s technology, they were sharing it with the rest of the world”

      what do you think Google would do if somebody tried to copy Google’s Search algorithms and “shared it with the rest of the world”?

      google is an immoral rat azz company and is even worse than other ruthless companies by pontificating their b.s “we don’t do evil” shat. At least other ‘robber companies’ are ‘honest’ about their ‘tough business practices’ but Google’s b.s is sickening.

      Google’s mole stole from a friend who trusted them. Jobs mentored the two Google boys when they were starting out and gave Schmidt a place on Apple’s board. Jobs gave Google a share of the spoils (maps etc. Jobs didn’t order his guys to start working on their own maps years ago. If Apple had started maps when iPhone began 5 or more years ago the maps fiasco today wouldn’t have happened. ) . And while their friend was dying of cancer … For MONEY… the Google boys and Schmidt fuked him and apple….

    1. Has to be for sale first. And I suspect daddy still wants to protect its citizens. It’s different than in the USA where people don’t know they guy living next door and government isn’t suppose to care about its citizens and citizens aren’t supposed to care for each other.

  5. Google’s plan, for now, is just to get Android into as many hands as possible.
    Once hooked, future updates will likely REQUIRE Google’s apps be included and not allow them to be removed.

  6. Glad to see this article. The fact that Google maps really suck in China gets little press. And their page rank algorithm doesn’t seem to parse East Asian scripts well, so that using it produces volumes of useless PDF files at top. The reason China switched over to Baidu wasn’t just the move of the server to Hong Kong, but more that Google search just doesn’t work as well.

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