Microsoft (MSFT) Could Benefit from Google's (GOOG) Boycott of China -WSJ

March 16, 2010 1:22 PM EDT Send to a Friend
To say China is a "rather populous" country would be an understatement: its 1.3 billion people make up about 20% of the Earth's human population. So with Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) looking like it might pull out of the country, who can reap the benefits?

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT). Observe object 'A' -- the Bing search engine. Microsoft has reportedly hired away three top players from Google China's business, and may be looking for more.

Microsoft's execs have said that they will remain in China and comply with their rules and regulations. The rules that Google refuses to abide by include filtering of certain political content and other forms of sensitive material.

Microsoft has had trouble in the past with piracy, as China's copyright laws are much more lax than those in the U.S. and other countries. They will need cooperation in the country to help fight the movement, which affects Microsoft's bread and butter products like Window's and Office.

What about the backlash? Should Microsoft seem too eager to fill Google's shoes upon their exit, consumers in the U.S. might be a little put-off to buy further products.

But don't count Google out just yet. A spokesperson said Monday that they were still in talks with the Chinese government. Moreover, Google believes that their Android-equipped smartphones should do well there, as the open-source software will enable a variety of partners.

Microsoft still has some strong headwinds to overcome. Where Google commands a 36% share of the market, cn.bing.com commands less than 1%. Bing's Chinese site launched last June.

Much headway could be made if the company just changed its name, it seems. The word 'bing' in China can mean cold, sick, or pancake (StreetInsider note: We actually would like using a pancake search engine), depending on how the word is pronounced. Microsoft said they changed the name to "bi ying," meaning: "to respond."

Many contributors to the WSJ article said that the closure of Google won't have a significant impact on their business.

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