How will Microsoft, Yahoo respond to Google's China challenge?

Analysts say Google rivals may face user criticism if they don't fight Chinese censorship

Google's move to challenge Chinese censorship demands and threaten to pull its business from the country could pressure search rivals like Microsoft and Yahoo to follow suit.

Analysts said Google should generate positive reviews from its challenge to the Chinese government, which could prove a problem for rivals that still censor search results for users in the country.

"It depends on what ultimately happens," said Dan Olds, an analyst at Gabriel Consulting Group. "If Google pulls out of China, I would like to think it would give other companies the guts to stand up to it and any other country that wants to censor content and use them to settle scores with critics."

Google announced late last night that a major attack launched against its network from within China had forced it to consider pulling its business out of the country. After the attack, which was aimed at exposing the Google Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, the search vendor said it was in the process of reconsidering earlier agreements with the government to censor search results of users in China.

In an e-mail to Computerworld , a Microsoft spokesman said the company has found no evidence that its network was hacked in China. "We have no indication that any of our mail properties have been compromised," he wrote. The spokesman, however, would not respond to questions about whether Google's move will prompt it to also consider pulling out of China.

Yahoo did not respond to a request for comment.

After noting that Google's image should benefit from its challenge to the Chinese government, industry observers said they were closely watching for subsequent moves by Microsoft and Yahoo, which run the second and third most popular search engines worldwide.

Rob Enderle, an analyst at the Enderle Group, said it will now be harder for other companies to go along with China's high-handed tactics.

"I think we would all appreciate it if companies more often drew lines in the sand protecting their customers even against large hostile governments," said Enderle. "This is the way that the Obama administration would like all companies to behave -- put doing what is right ahead of what is financially expedient. It would be nice if this was a trend but with executives focused on quarterly results and the bottom line that is doubtful."

And while Google's rivals will likely face increasing pressure to deal more harshly with the Chinese government, they may also find themselves in a position to pick up some of Google's market share -- and advertising revenues -- in the country.

"This gives Google's rivals a big business opportunity," said Olds. "With Google out of the market, it gives them a clearer path to win a big chunk of the market -- but at what cost?" The cost could be measured in good will and reputation, he added.

"This may prevent further investment and transfer of other technology to China," said Jim McGregor, an analyst with In-Stat. "This is likely going to cause others to proceed cautiously, if at all."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MicrosoftGoogleChinaYahoo

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?