What happened: The leaked transcript of a Google executives meeting shows that the company is expected to launch its restricted search engine for the Chinese market within six to nine months or sooner. This contradicts a response the company was forced to give after facing increasing criticism from the public. “All we’ve done is some exploration,” Ben Gomes, Google’s search engine chief told the media previously. The secretive project has been underway since spring 2017.
Why it’s important: In the transcript, Gomes reveals that China is the most interesting market in the world today with 1 billion potential users. Google has been speeding up its China plans with the launch of its Translate app, AI research lab in Beijing during 2017, and more recently an AI-powered mini-app game on WeChat’s platform. However, Google’s China foray won’t be easy. It not only faces criticism from the public and its own employees over ethical issues but also competition in a highly consolidated market that’s dominated by incumbents like Baidu and Sogou.