Baidu, Google’s China competitor, announced that in May it will close down Youa, its online e-commerce store, and relocate them to its new e-commerce site at Rakuten China and Yaodian100.com. Baidu underlined the fact that contrary to others’ opinions, the company will not stop e-commerce activities, but expand them.
“This should not be seen as Baidu withdrawing from the e-commerce scene. In fact, we are in research and development on a new e-commerce platform product which will suit users better,” said a Baidu representative quoted by Reuters.
The Chhinese online shopping market is expected to grow significantly in the following period, considering that there are over 450 million internet users in the Chinese country. The online retail market is expected to grow an average of 27 percent a year, to $159.4 billion in 2015, from $48.8 billion this year, according to Forrester Research Inc. Competitors such as Taobao.com, owned by Alibaba currently dominates 75 percent of the $61 billion Chinese online shopping market, which is expected to grow by an additional 44 percent next years and 34 percent in the year after that.
Such significant figures of the Chinese online market have made foreign players, such as Wal-Mart, invest in the e-commerce consumer electronics seller, 360buy.com. Such strategic moves represent an inspiration for luxury fashion brands that inure to extend their businesses in this blossoming market, which will be expected to outrun Japan, current leader in the luxury fashion industry.
Powerful as it may be, the Chinese market is hardly ever penetrated by foreign companies due to the political regimes of the country. In the last years, the Chinese government banned services such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and so on through VPN services on the grounds of undermining the internal order. Now Google is again facing trouble with Chinese authorities through its Maps services that do not conform with the Chinese legislation at the moment, thus facing possible prosecution. Google has a deadline on the 1st of July when it should have made the decision of whether licensing Google Maps or not.
Google has always had controversy as part of its brand image, and with Google’s face recognition app, it is almost certain issues will arise. With the new app, Google says it has taken privacy measures as for the use of the app, the user would have to check a box to give Google permission to access their pictures and profile information. Yet, the company has not specified what personal data might be displayed once a person is identified.
Privacy is regarded as a central issue, especially by European states that demanded Facebook and Google to comply with the latest regulations after having breached privacy. The latest sanction comes from French authorities that fined Google for collecting unauthorized Wi-Fi data through its Latitude service.