After years of poor connectivity and confusion, it is now apparent that China has no Google. What implications does this have for your business? Yes, Google services will still function in China if you use a virtual private network (VPN), but these services are not always dependable, so be cautious if you want to use Google Maps on your mobile device while you are out and about.
Some of the services that need to be replaced in your organization are apparent and their replacements are simple to execute, such as avoiding Gmail when in China, while others are not so evident.
So, what is the greatest omission in China due to the absence of Google? Search… Yahoo is your sole option if you want an English-only search engine that operates in China. Bing also functions, albeit in Chinese; however, once you've entered your search terms and hit the search button, an option will display below the search bar that allows you to view only English language results. In China, Bing operates on the Baidu platform. Baidu, the leading Chinese search engine with a 56 percent market share in the People's Republic of China, is now regarded as the finest option for Chinese-language search results ( correct in May 2015). Qihoo360 (www.haosou.com), which is on the rise and already accounts for 29 percent of PRC searches, is another Chinese search engine to keep an eye on.
As a non-Chinese corporation seeking quality search results, your best bet may be wow.com. This AOL service is powered by Google, however it is not currently prohibited on the Chinese mainland (at time of writing in May 2015).
Gmail will likely present the least difficulty to replace. A couple of months ago, Outlook was temporarily inaccessible for a few hours, although it normally operates without issue. Yahoo Mail is dependable, and there have been no delays to the service recently. Obviously, many businesses choose for internal e-mail, which eliminates the necessity for these web-based services.
Without Google in China, Google Maps cannot exist. It is more difficult to replace Google Maps due to its cross-platform capability and consistent accuracy, which makes it unique. Baidu offers the same service on its website, mobile site, and app, but it's only available in Chinese, so individuals who aren't sure in their ability to communicate in Chinese should avoid using it.
Openstreetmap is a good desktop alternative, particularly if you wish to incorporate maps into your website. There are a few options to Mapquest for Android users that need maps on the move, but Mapquest remains the finest. Users of the iPhone have nothing to worry about because, unlike Google Maps, the preinstalled Maps application is unblocked and hence functions properly. Caution should be used when utilizing WeChat. It features a very helpful capability that allows you to share your location with another user. The recipient can then, in theory, be sent directly to your location. The positioning systems might commonly put you a block away from where you have been invited, producing a great deal of confusion and annoyance. It's a good idea to provide a location, and if you don't know the precise address, provide the person you're meeting with with a nearby landmark. At the best of times, China's addressing system is complex, so it's prudent to designate landmarks and meeting places.
An interesting consequence of the absence of Google in China is the issue of Google Fonts - a far less evident inconvenience, but one that you should be aware of if you run a website. Google fonts is a free tool that enables you to incorporate cross-browser fonts into your website. It has now been blocked, which means it won't work in China, so while your site will still load, the fonts will not load correctly, leaving your user with an incomplete screen or the impression that the site is blocked. Fortunately, the WordPress plugin 'disable google fonts' allows your site to load without these fonts.
Android users are the very last! If you are reading this from outside China, you should be aware that as soon as you enter Chinese internet space, the Google Play store will no longer be accessible. If you do not have a VPN installed, you should fill your phone with apps beforehand to avoid disappointment.
How does this affect business? It implies that no one in China will purchase your software from Google Play, a fact that our Canadian app developer friends learned only after attending a Beijing technology conference while on vacation. There are further marketplaces in China where you can purchase and sell Android applications, which we will discuss later.
More information about how to navigate the Internet in China will be forthcoming. In the meantime, feel free to send us an e-mail if you have any questions about the topic of no Google in China. We have been dealing with the Internet in China for a considerable amount of time and are well-versed on the Great Firewall. Those of you who are already present, we are eagerly awaiting your stories and advice.