Google has not had the best relationship with China, having argued over censorship and been on the receiving end of hacking cases. As a result, the company has been absent from China since 2010. However, restructuring under the new Alphabet umbrella could mean that divisions are free to return to the country, should they choose to do so.
Speaking on Wednesday, Google co-founder Sergey Brin stated that each Alphabet business is free to make its own decisions about which countries they operate in, which opens the door to divisions going back to work in China or any other region of their choice. Countries, timings or divisions were not specifically mentioned, but the statement came at an event for Google’s Project Loon balloon-based internet service.
“Each Alphabet business can make its own decisions on which countries to operate in,” – Google co-founder Sergey Brin
Brin mentioned that China is one of the countries that is interested in expanding its internet coverage by using Loon technology, which could bring web access to the country’s large rural population. Last month, sources also suggested that Google may be looking at coming back to the Chinese mobile market with a specific Chinese version of the Google Play Store, which may comply with some of the country’s stricter rules on censorship.
Google has been more open about its interests in China since appointing Sundar Pichai as CEO. The reorganization under Alphabet also means that separate projects from advertising, Search, YouTube, and upcoming ideas from Nest of the X Lab now have more autonomy over how they conduct their operations.
Given the fast growth in Chinese smartphone and consumer electronics industries, and many more consumers coming online, Google has good reasons to get back into China.