Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), long a champion for an open and free Internet, has found itself somewhat irrelevant in one of the most repressive countries in the world when it comes to an open and free Internet. Google has been in a series of battles with the Chinese government over the years in efforts to open up the Internet and the world to the citizens of China, but it seems that the more Google would try, the more repressive China would get. Things had gotten so bad that, other than a 90-percent smartphone market share for is Android operating system, Google has essentially all but pulled out of China. (We covered this, like in this story.)
Google Search is not a factor in Baidu.com, Inc. (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) land. YouTube has been blocked. Google+, the social-networking answer to Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), is not being offered in the country. If it wasn’t for Android, it seems that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) would actually be a multi-national company that would be virtually unknown in one important corner of the world. So with that as a backdrop, would the news of the head of China operations for the company departing be any really big deal? Or might this suggest a shift in strategy for the company that might actually improve the company’s footprint in the country?
It is a little early to tell at this point, but there does seem to be a shift in the wind with the news that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) head of China operations Dr. John Liu will be leaving his post after six years with the company, and is reported to be replaced an executive from the Europe team, Scott Beaumont. Beaumont has been the head of Google Europe’s partnerships business, and is expected to jump into the new role in the middle of next month and move Google’s new China strategy forward. What is that strategy? To move its more behind-the -scenes role in China into a more pronounced positioning for businesses in the country.
You see, though Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has a very minimized role within China’s borders due to the censorship battles, the company does still have a huge impact outside of China in terms of its reach and influence in advertising. What might this mean in China for Google, and how does this change in leadership affect this business model?