Monday, February 8, 2010

Google bites the wax tadpole

The whole "Coca-Cola in Chinese is 'bite the wax tadpole'" story is an urban legend, but according to ethnographer Tricia Wang, Google has come close to bringing the legend to life in China, quite apart from the current flap over censorship and cybervandalism. The piece is well worth reading in full, but some of the highlights:
  • People are generally unsure even as to how to pronounce Google's name in Chinese, much less what characters to type in to get to it.
  • Google has been completely out-marketed by Baidu, albeit with help from the Chinese government.
  • Google's email-centric model is out of sync with China's instant messaging, cell phone-centric culture.
Wang's work is concerned with low-income internet users. She is well aware that academics in China love Google. Her point is that, in China as elsewhere, that's a narrow segment of the population.

From what I can tell, and Wang offers more data to confirm this, the cell-phone/IM model is the way most people in emerging markets access online. See this post and this one for a bit more on Chinese cell phones and the web.


オテモヤン said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Hull said...

I'm not sure what was said, as I don't read Chinese, but I have reason to think it was spam. If not, please post again in English.

David Hull said...

Even though the original post is no longer visible, I feel oddly compelled to acknowledge an error: Probably because the original spam concerned China, I failed to notice that it actually used kanji/katakana/hiragana. As I don't read Japanese either, the original sentiment still stands.