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Google And Apple Make Headway In China

By Chris Gomez - Posted on 04 November 2009

Over the weekend, Google and Apple made significant headway in China (or at least, with things related to China). As time goes by it gets easier to wonder whether or not the two industry giants are out to get each other's throats, since their marketing strategies seem to cross on so many paths.

Let's start with Apple. Last weekend, the iPhone finally made it to China, greeted by the usual droves that go where the world's leading smartphone goes. Sales were brisk, but noticeably subdued at the same time -- while hundreds of people braved the cold rain to get their hands on an iPhone, there weren't many sellouts, unlike in Japan and the US.

Should be expected, I guess -- after all, what do you expect from China? Millions of "genuine imitations" of iPhones have been in use in China for months, and the new iPhone -- with a hefty price tag and no Wi-Fi -- isn't really as appealing as it could have been. While I think the iPhone will eventually make up lost ground in the next few months, I also hope Apple learned a thing or two about the Chinese market from the "lukewarm" reception.

Next up, Google. Now Google hasn't really physically ventured onto China like Apple did, but one of their most recent developments -- Google Voice Search in Mandarin Chinese -- make it so they might as well had. Google Voice Search is a smartphone application that lets you recite your search query instead of typing it out, saving lots of time and effort. (Hmmm... this sounds like what Yahoo! had some 2 years ago. I think I need to dig up some info on them and find out how they're faring in this area of search.)

Google Voice Search recognizes an increasing number of English accents, but stepping into Mandarin Chinese territory is a major feat. I mean, think about it -- it's China! China has two times more cellphone subscribers than the US, posing a very tempting market. Mandarin Voice Search is only available on Nokia S60 phones at this point, but if Google does things right, it poses to reap dividends over the next few months.

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