Google Inc has officially launched mobile phone-based search services in China, the biggest market in the world which has more than 500 million handset users, the search giant said yesterday in a statement.
Google China's mobile search services are based on keyword search through short message service and they cover stock information, weather forecasts, train information and functions such as calculator, foreign currency rate and language translation.
This was another move for Google to tap into the wireless market from the Internet, especially in China.
"The service is totally free now and users are only required to pay for the short message fee to carriers," Google said in a statement.
But the venture has been met with skepticism by some IT experts, who say the technology has already been tested on the Chinese market.
China-based firms, including Shanghai-based mInfo Inc, Chongqing Yicha, Uucun and Cgogo, have been launching mobile search services since 2004.
In 2010, China's mobile search user base is expected to hit 200 million compared with 61 million this year, according to IT consulting firm iResearch Inc. Google is just starting to fully understand the logistics of delivering mobile searches in China and it is suspected that its move into the Chinese market will fail.
Alvin Wang Graylin, chief executive of mInfo, said many handset users in China didn't have computer-based search experience.
"This is just going to show that once again in the China market, big US corporations can't compete well against local home-grown companies, such as Baidu vs Google or Taobao vs eBay," Graylin said during an interview yesterday.
(Shanghai Daily November 21, 2007)