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Google exploring investments in Chinese companies

15 апреля 2008

Google aims to become a market leader in China's Internet-search market in about five years, the company's Greater China President Kai-Fu Lee said.

Google is also exploring investments in Chinese firms that focus on social networking and mobile Internet as part of its strategy to expand in China, a burgeoning market which analysts estimate might have already outgrown the U.S. in the number of Internet users.

Lee declined to elaborate on the potential investments in a country where the Internet giant has gained share and overtaken Alibaba Group's Yahoo
China. But Google continues to lag Baidu.com Inc., despite Chief Executive Eric Schmidt saying last year it will eventually become the leader in China.

"Certainly, we would like to aspire to be a market leader in five years," Lee told Dow Jones Newswires on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for

Google accounted for 26% of
China's Internet-search revenue during the fourth quarter of last year, up from 17% from the same period a year earlier, based on data from Beijing research firm Analysys International.

Current market leader Baidu.com's share of the market rose to 60% from 58% over the same period.

Many users in
China are more familiar with Baidu, which started earlier in the country and which attracts users in significant part by facilitating easy access to free music.

"Gaining share against a well established, super-majority competitor is a difficult proposition because there is a certain critical mass, economy of scale and 'word-of-mouth' effect that one has to overcome," said Lee.

China, Google has invested in Tianya.cn, a social networking Web site, and in Xunlei Network Technology Co., a provider of video and game downloads for an undisclosed amount.

The Wall Street Journal, citing people close to the matter, reported earlier this year that Google is in the late planning stages of a joint venture with a Chinese online music company that would permit it to provide free and licensed music downloads in

The move would help Google compete against Baidu. Some record companies have filed lawsuits against Baidu, alleging copyright infringements.

Lee declined to comment on the music joint venture.

"We're interested in what users like, in general, and certainly music is among many things users like, so we carefully study it and then we'll tell you the product plan when we have one," he said."If we're ever to launch a product, it would be one that properly balances the interests of the copyright holders, the music consumers, and Google and our partners."

Источник: Total Telecom

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