Lessons for aspiring internet censors
What we can learn from Google's China experience (and China's Google experience).
Google has as of yesterday pulled the plug on it's search service in China. Whether this is a good move for Google from a long-term perspective remains to be seen. Google may endear itself to younger Chinese by this move, but also runs the considerable risk of leaving the huge Chinese market for internet search(the world's largest) to larger rival Baidu. And Baidu has proven to be a formidable rival to Google in China, cornering about 57% of the Chinese market for internet search revenues, to Google's 35%. This market share will of course only go upward now. And who knows - first China and maybe then the world? It is difficult to tell whether Baidu can translate its excellent performance into the English internet, but maybe that's not as difficult as it looks. Stranger overthrows have happened in business.
As I see it, the Google-China episode reveals the risks inherent in trying to set up an elaborate infrastructure for censoring something as intrinsically free as the internet. In particular, it holds two sobering lessons for such aspiring internet censors. Read those lessons in my post on the Fast Company blog: In a hubless world, there's little room for hubris.