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Google Maps Loses Its Way in China

Google Maps Loses Its Way in China

Today in international tech news: Google Maps' market share plummets in China. Also: The UK reviews Google's pledge to downgrade search results for illegal file-sharing sites, Anonymous goes on a hacking spree, and China's WeChat app boosts the number of users it has outside China.

By David Vranicar
11/06/12 9:16 AM PT

Google Maps' mobile app is losing market share to local competition in China, according to Tech In Asia.

Statistics from the third quarter show that Google Maps has lost almost half its market share since the second quarter -- from 17.5 percent to 9.5 percent -- and fell to No. 6 from No. 2 among mobile map apps.

Tech In Asia ticks off a few possible reasons for the decline:

  • Myriad competitors that have cluttered the market, such as Baidu Map, Mapbar, Tiger Maps and Sogou Maps.
  • Android is extremely popular in China, but it doesn't always come installed with Google Maps.
  • Because the online version of Google Maps is partially blocked in China, people may be under the impression the product is not good.

UK Questions Google's Anti-Piracy Efforts

Heeding complaints from entertainment groups, the UK will review Google's promise to adjust its algorithm so as to downgrade illegal file-sharing sites in search results.

According to The Guardian, UK culture secretary Jeremy Hunt warned a year ago that the country would enact new laws to demote illegal file-sharers if Google didn't act on its own. Google said it would indeed act, pledging in August to boot repeat offenders from the top of its results.

Authorities might go ahead with legislation anyway, according to The Guardian, because film, music and publishing groups are still dissatisfied with the pervasiveness of file-sharing sites in Google searches. Despite changes to Google's algorithm, UK search results for downloads and MP3s are still littered with file-sharing sites, the newspaper reported.

A Google spokesman is quoted in the article saying the company is, and has been, working to protect rights holders.

In addition to pressuring search engines, the UK has already called upon Internet service providers to thwart piracy by restricting access to sites like The Pirate Bay.

Anonymous Hacks Away on Guy Fawkes Day

Christmas came early for Anonymous.

In an apparent celebration of Guy Fawkes Day, the hacker group Anonymous attacked numerous sites Monday.

As the BBC explains, Nov. 5 is the day that the UK marks Guy Fawkes' attempt to destroy parliament back in 1605. Some of the hacked websites were indeed adorned with a rhyme about November 5.

Among Anonymous' targets was the Australian government, which has proposed an Internet filter that it claims will block pornography. At least one Australian website was tagged with a message about how the government was compromising privacy.

Chinese App Gains Ground Abroad

WeChat, a mobile messaging app from Tencent Holdings, China's largest Internet company, is gaining traction overseas, according to The New York Times.

Like many techy Chinese products -- Sina Weibo and Twitter, Renren and Facebook -- WeChat has a Western counterpart in the form of WhatsApp. However, WeChat appears set on surpassing the hugely popular WhatsApp. WeChat has unveiled a "steady stream of new features" such as group chatting, which allows users to post pictures and update their status.

As The Times points out, Chinese Internet companies have not had a lot of luck outside the Middle Kindgom. Baidu, for instance, China's top search engine, announced plans to penetrate Japan in 2007 -- plans that, to this point, have resulted in more than $100 million in losses.

WeChat, however, could reverse the trend. In September, Tencent announced that the user base had jumped from 100 million to 200 million over the past six months. WeChat reportedly registered almost 100,000 new US users in September.

The company is planning on a foreign presence, having made the app available in Russian, Portuguese, Indonesian and other languages.


David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author of The Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out his ECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com.


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