Google China Wants To Be Ahead Within Five Years

    April 15, 2008

Corporate leaders are in tough positions when trying to predict the future.  If they’re too positive, they’re seen as overconfident.  Too cautious, and people wonder why they’re scared.  So Google China’s Kai-Fu Lee seems to have aimed at a middle ground when describing his pursuit of Baidu.

Google China
 Kai-Fu Lee

"Certainly, we would like to aspire to be a market leader in five years," he said at a recent conference.  Terence Poon reports that he later continued, "Gaining share against a well-established, supermajority competitor is a difficult proposition because there is a certain critical mass, economy of scale and word-of-mouth effect that one has to overcome."

And from watching Yahoo, Microsoft, and Ask, Google would certainly know, eh?  Indeed, in 2007, Eric Schmidt spoke of China’s 5,000-year history, and it seemed like Google China’s earnings wouldn’t be examined for another four years.

Unfortunately (for Google), five years – or any amount of time – may not be a long enough period for it to pass Baidu.  In a year-over-year comparison between fourth quarters, Google’s market share rose from 17 to 26 percent, according to Poon.  But Baidu’s went from 58 to 60 percent in the same period.

Since Kai-Fu Lee can’t simply give up, setting a nonbinding, far-out goal seems like a reasonable way to go.