Google's exit may open a window for Microsoft's Bing search engine
BEIJING: Beleaguered search engine Google, which is threatening to exit China over Internet regulations, needs to be more patient and flexible to situations if it wants to continue doing business in the country, according to a senior official from rival Microsoft.
"I think we feel good enough now (about Microsoft in China). But it is a 20 year (journey) and not just three years (like for Google)," said Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer of Microsoft.
Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer of Microsoft, says the company’s nearly 20-year experience in China has forced it to choose a different approach when facing difficulties compared with Google. [Provided to China Daily]
Google may ultimately share the same pattern of development as Microsoft, he said.
Mundie should know better than anyone on the travails that Microsoft underwent in China. He has been guiding Microsoft's China strategy since 1998, and said that the company still has a difficult time with rampant piracy in the country.
But he noted the company's nearly two decades of experience in China has forced the firm to choose a different approach when facing difficulties compared with Google, which did not have a presence in China until 2007.
"China is now feeling the need to be the knowledge economy of the world. That dream will help build greater awareness and support for intellectual property rights," Mundie said in an interview with China Daily.
He said when copyright environment improves, Microsoft and local companies would benefit. Over time, the company's returns will improve while its products continue to see strong public support, Mundie said.
On Jan 12, Google said it would stop censoring Chinese search results, and may even pull out of the country.
In the subsequent weeks, talks with the Chinese government have hit a dead end, as both sides do not want to alter their position.
Mundie said Google's plan to shut down its domestic website, Google.cn, will in no way impact on Microsoft.
"Microsoft is committed to stay," he said.
He noted that Microsoft's Bing search engine would gain some market share if the US search giant exits China. Bing currently has an 11 percent share of the global search engine market although in China its market share is less than 1 percent.
At the same time Mundie stresses that there will be no considerable changes in the way Microsoft operates in the country.
Like Google, Microsoft too had its share of problems in China. Piracy ate away a large chunk of its profits and relations were strained with the government, consumers and even the Chinese executives it hired.
Over the next few years the company underwent several top-level reshuffles and restructuring of its operations in China.
"People in the management who are not familiar with China might make an assumption that the business they operate in other countries will naturally be transferable here. But in most cases that is not true," Mundie said.
He contends that in China, challenges remain for Microsoft as it expands into new areas of business.