Can the world survive without Google?

I thought I heard you hesitating a little with that answer. Is this one of those questions that causes a slight chill to shoot up your spine? Or maybe your heart skipped a beat for a second there?

If you think about it, the pre-google era was still rich in intellectual exploits, innovations and inventions. People used to research and find information albeit not necessarily at the click of a button. I belong to a generation whose internet life has been quite synonymous with google life, so yes, that question sends a chill up my spine.

When Google decided it might just as well do without China, many people thought, well, a billion people have just been thrown back into the dark ages thanks to political totalitarianism.

I got curious.

How could a nation that was looking at becoming the next super power decide to shut off its people from the world like that? I can understand why Iranian authorities would decide to censor internet access, what with botched elections, crimes against humanity and all, but China?? In my bid to explore this topic further (on Google of course), I stumbled upon several facts that led to me to think that maybe, just maybe, Google ain’t all that.

  1. The Google China Fiasco wasn’t Political, it was just business
    There is no single foreign internet company that has gotten into the Chinese market and took control of a major market share. I stand corrected but I think the same applies to non-tech industries as well. This is not a coincidence. One of the many neo-colonialism stunts that the U.S government pulls is encouraging its business conglomerates to dominate international business, consequently dictating global markets in the process. For a country that seeks to claim its stake in that Super power league, allowing U.S companies to control its markets is not an option. Baidu.com is the search engine of choice, Alibaba.com is the e-commerce portal of choice, Youku.com is the video site of choice, 51.com is the leading social network and the list goes on. Despite recent predictions that the next financial bubble burst will happen in China, I’d say China is doing alright so far without Google.
  2. Google is not synonymous with Innovation
    This remains to be seen, plus I am not comfortable with anyone coming to the reverse conclusion this early. It’s true though; Google has done a great job of positioning itself as the epitome of innovation in the past few years. But then again, with China’s internet population of 420 Million people (which is more than the entire population of the U.S), the opportunities for innovation in this Asian country are vast. Just yesterday, I read that China is releasing its own version of both Google Earth and Google Maps, called ‘Map World’, not to mention that Youku.com is arguably better than YouTube. It has been described as Hulu on a YouTube scale. At this point I ask myself, does the number of internet users influence internet innovation? If that’s the case, with 110 Million users in Africa, maybe, just maybe, we can also do without Google.
  3. What is it we do on the internet?
    While trying to explain why Google did not hit off in China, even without considering the censoring issue, most analysts seem to believe that Google failed to adapt to the Net activities of Chinese people, not to mention making it easy for them to use it. A great majority of Chinese people can’t even pronounce Google. Think about this, while most U.S users go online to e-mail, search for “stuff” and shop on the Net (which makes Google quite relevant to them), Chinese users go online to send IMs, listen to music, watch videos, read the news, visit/post on social network sites, and play games – Baidu.com proves to be more useful to them in this regard. So I ask this question, what do Africans go online to do? Is our net behavior similar to that of Americans? If that’s the case, then yes, Google works for us, but if not, then maybe, just maybe, Google is holding us back from growing ‘the African way’ and we should just do away with it.

Don’t get me wrong though. I Love Google. But sometimes, it’s important to ask these disturbing questions, just in case things aren’t as they seem. So I ask again, Can the world survive without Google? Better yet, Should Africa do without Google?

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5 Responses to “Can the world survive without Google?”


  1. 1 攝影機 October 24, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Great piece of facts that you’ve obtained on this web site publish. Hope I will get some much more of the stuff in your weblog. I will appear again.

  2. 2 Saul October 27, 2010 at 10:02 am

    @intervangelist We live in the networking age. Do you know that some of the major investors in Youku are American VC’s? And that it partnered with MySpace to enable it to grow in China sometime back. It has a Firefox (an American creation?) too. I guess we’ll learn so much from American IT companies in terms of technology transfer if we partner with them instead of “hating”.

    • 3 Saul October 27, 2010 at 3:23 pm

      I’ve done some little research on some of the big Chinese websites and I’ve come to see that many have been created by Chinese who were once working in America. From Baidu, Youku to Tudou.This mirrors the way Japan leap-frogged into the Industrial Age: send out some bright minds into the developed world and then bring them back to replicate what they have learned.As for Africa, may be you should have suggested explicitly “brain gain” if we are to build our own Youtubes and Googles.Otherwise, this is a nice article. I like it.
      P.S: You did announce about the release of a local search engine in your older posts. That’s where we should start from.

  3. 4 suchheini November 5, 2010 at 5:11 am

    Simply discovered your web page through google and I consider this can be a disgrace that you are not ranked upper due to the fact that that is a fantastic post. To switch this I determined to avoid wasting your web site to my RSS reader and I will try to point out you in one of my posts since you actually deserv extra readers when publishing content material of this quality.


  1. 1 Monday Moments – Mobile, Mobile, Mobile! « Intervangelist East Africa Trackback on November 22, 2010 at 11:00 am

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