Google acts against its economic interests and for open access to information: Dumb? Naive? True to its motto?
Google just announced it is shutting down Google.cn, its Chinese search site. It will maintain a Chinese language offshore site, which the PRC can easily block. Google doesn’t make much money, relatively, in China. If China doesn’t block the offshore site, it won’t lose much at all, in the short term.
But, Google is giving up a 400 million person market in which it has about a 35% share. That market is going to grow with or without Google’s participation.
Google entered the market with the idea that it was doing good, even with censored results. It left the market apparently concluding that the good done didn’t outweigh the residual bad of censorship.
I don’t know if Google thinks that down the road China will change and it can re-enter the market, or that it thinks that China won’t change, but it’s not willing to play by its restrictive rules. Either way, a shareholder might bitch; but, its withdrawal does tend to demonstrate that it takes the “Do No Evil” stuff seriously.