Google’s announced closure of its Chinese search engine – and potential further fallout of that decision – changes the internet playing field in China, says William Bao Bean, partner at Softbank China and India holdings at Media Asia.
“This is definitely going to open the market up to the guys, including Tencent and to some extent Sohu and e-commerce search engines like Taobao’s,” Bean said. “In terms of taking over, some of the more traditional portals have an opportunity there and Tencent is well-positioned. It has the image of being a platform for younger users but these users are going to grow up with the company. For example, MSN was the messenger of choice for corporate users but the number of QQ IM users has grown and now it dwarfs MSN.”
According to William Bao Bean, Google’s China operation had just in 2009 become profitable.
Overall, Google made an estimated US$300 million in China last year, and it became profitable by the end of 2009, partner at SoftBank China & India Holdings, William Bao Bean, cited. The idea that this figure represents merely one per cent of Google Inc.’s total sales has prompted analysts to suggest that its exit from China is not crutial, but Bean notes that, over time, “it would have been immense for the company in the long run as the company takes shift”.