There is possibility that Google can re-enter the Chinese market with a reportedly "censored version of the search engine," but it will be a huge challenge for Chinese regulators due to the lack of a relevant supervision mechanism, said an analyst.
The comment came after media reports that Google is planning a censored version of its search engine for China that blocks certain search terms.
Google had no comment on the speculation on Thursday. "We provide a number of mobile apps in China, such as Google Translate and Files Go, help Chinese developers, and have made significant investments in Chinese companies like JD.com. But we don't comment on speculation about future plans," the company told the Global Times.
Google may re-launch its censored search engine in China, but the key differentiation lies with what powerful local partnership it may establish, and how influential and experienced the partner, or joint venture, is at managing compliance, Chris Dong, global research director at technology advisory firm IDC China, told the Global Times on Thursday.
The current China-U.S. trade dispute deepens the complexity for this to move forward, Dong said. "China has long been committed to further reform and opening-up, but it is not clear how related policy and governance will be changed in the information service domains after both sides return to the negotiation table," he noted.
From the competitiveness point of view, Google's censored search engine may challenge Microsoft's Bing Search to some extent in China, Dong said. However Baidu may feel much less pain, as it has built a substantial application ecosystem and user base that caters well to Chinese with down-to-earth usability. Google will have to land more of its ecosystem applications in China, but each of those may prove to be a challenge in itself.
Chinese search engine giant Baidu's stock price dropped 7.73 percent to $228.07 on Wednesday (U.S. time).