Alphabet’s Plans for a China Comeback Go Beyond Google Search
Google has faced sharp criticism, including from its own employees
, for its efforts to rebuild an internet search presence in China
after quitting the country eight years ago over censorship issues.
for Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet, the opportunities in the world’s largest internet market may be too good to resist. And the full scope of the company’s interest in China now appears to be broader than just internet search.
The latest hint came from Waymo, the driverless-car company that was spun out of Google in 2016. Chinese media noticed this week that the business had quietly registered a Shanghai subsidiary in May, suggesting that it wants a piece of an industry that the Chinese government has made a priority.
Unlike Google, Apple runs its own app store in China, heeding government directives about the kinds of apps that can be available to Chinese users. Microsoft and Amazon offer cloud computing services, working with local partners and following strict controls on how customers’ data is stored.
Baidu, maker of the country’s leading search engine, has made its autonomous-vehicle software platform available to dozens of local and foreign companies. SAIC Motor, China’s largest carmaker, is working with the e-commerce titan Alibaba. BMW and Daimler have received permission in China to test their own self-driving vehicles.
more on Google and China in this IMS blog
Alphabet is breaking up Nest, its standalone smart-home gadgets company, and moving Nest’s software group back into Google.
enerally speaking, Google has very limited interest in making hardware in the first place. The cost of building things is high, the margins are low, and Google’s real specialty is in web services like Gmail and search anyway.
Google started signaling that Android, the most popular operating system in the world, and Chrome OS, its more niche operating system for laptops, were going to get smashed together. The result, ideally, will be a version of Android that can extend its smartphone dominance to tablets and laptops…which is why Android 7.0, the most recent release, makes split-screen multitasking such a tentpole feature.
the real business opportunity for Google is to compel a broad range of companies to create gadgets and home appliances using its software. The hardware is secondary. In fact, building its own hardware can even work against Google: The more successful Google is at selling its own hardware, the less likely other hardware makers want to use its software, since they view Google as a competitor.
Putting all its efforts behind expanding and extending Android has made Google a top player in the smartphone market, even after its late start against Apple and the iPhone.