Google is considering shutting down its Chinese search engine and closing its offices in China after a series of "targeted" attacks on the Gmail accounts of human rights activists in the country. In a remarkable and defiant blog post on the company's website, Google announced that it is no longer willing to self-censor its search results on Google.cn. Marc Ambinder and James Fallows have already contributed fast and excellent analysis.
I had a lot of questions about this story. In the spirit of transparency (seems important for this story) rather than stir fry my own analysis from their thoughts, I'll share my biggest questions about this story, and the answers I've gleaned.
1) What will be the impact for Google?
As a public relations move, this is already going down brilliantly. It's difficult to find a newspaper or blog post that isn't singing Google's praises for finally taking stand against China's shadowy war against free speech. Financially, exiting China is an unknown long-term sacrifice, but in the short term, leaving the Chinese market would be the equivalent of cutting off some hair, as opposed to chopping off a major limb. Google is not the main search engine in China. The company's revenue from the Chinese market is estimated at $600 million by JP Morgan, about two percent of Google's yearly revenue projections, according to paidContent.