Posted by: Third Tone Devil | 28 January 2010

Anthrodesign discussion of Google and China

Tricia Wang, who describes herself as a “media consultant  |  technology eductor  |  youth programming strategist,”  is doing a sociology PhD at UCSD on “”how migrants and youth use communication tools, such as cellphones, internet cafes, or traditional landlines to manage their social network”, based on ethnographic research in the U.S., Mexico, and China. She has posted an interesting analysis of Google’s lack of market success in China among “non-elite users.” She points to various factors, including the fact that “Google operates in an e-mail paradigm while other services operate in a messenger paradigm,” i.e. it doesn’t allow instant communication with people who are not at that moment online, and posting pictures or files requires operating in an e-mail mode — while Chinese users rarely use email and are used to instant communication in a much wider range of situations (e.g. with doctors on hospital websites, or sales agents at travel agency websites).

Another factor she cites is lack of offline advertising:

Part of [market leader search engine] Baidu’s success lies in its successful marketing campaign against Google, using nationalism as one of their publicity strategies. It’s been working well. The campaign is so effective that netizens associate the use of Google with being unpatriotic. In this infamous Baidu commercial from 2006, Baidu wins an intelligence contest over the its unnamed foreign competiter who is represented by the white male actor. Baidu succeeds in “knowing more” in the back and forth banter over the meaning of the scroll. Even the white man’s Chinese female lover decides to leave him for the Chinese scholar who “knows more.”



  1. […] on Google in China — again Tricia Wang, who has earlier analysed the reasons of Google’s lack of success in China, has returned to the topic in a post on […]

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