At this point, it's looking like Google's pull out of China will is imminent. The Financial Times reports this outcome is "99.9 per cent" certain, according to a source close to the talks between the search company and Asian superpower. Combine that with other news that journalists are camping outside of Google's China headquarters due to a company representative saying "something will happen soon," and it's pretty clear that we should hear google.cn's fate very shortly. So the big question is: will Google's decision to depart China inspire other companies to stop putting up with the nation's censorship policies?
Some reports indicate that China has already begun putting pressure on other companies to distance themselves from Google. The New York Times reports that the nation has is warning some of the search provider's major partners to sever ties:
The Chinese government information authorities warned some of Google's biggest Web partners on Friday that they should prepare backup plans in case Google ceases censoring the results of searches on its local Chinese-language search engine, said the expert, who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation by the government.
Separately, consultants are telling Chinese advertisers to start thinking about abandoning Google for other search sites. Bloomberg reports:
"When we talk to clients, we have been pushing them in the direction of Baidu more," said Vincent Kobler, managing director at EmporioAsia Leo Burnett in Shanghai, which buys advertising on behalf of customers. "The Chinese government has taken a firm stance, and Google, they have their own principles, and are going to shut down."
I'll be curious to see if these partners and advertisers will be quick to abandon Google, or if they'll stick by Google until the ugly end. It could reveal a little about whether other companies will respect Google's decision so much that they also consider disputing China's policies. But given the nation's strong stance, I'm pretty unconvinced they will.
China has shown that it simply won't tolerate even a company like Google trying to assert itself. So I'd be pretty surprised if other firms try to press their luck and risk losing out on the enormous revenue potential the nation could provide for their principles. And on that note, it's impressive that Google wasn't bluffing. Assuming that the company does pull out, Chinese users will have to go to the worldwide google.com destination to use its search, which will still filter out whatever Chinese officials deem appropriate.