Google Leaves China, Returns As Gu Ge”
As Google expands its reach into China, the search engine whose name was powerful enough to become a verb in the English language has officially changed its name Gu Ge (pronounced goo guh), based on Chinese characters.
Some reports say the new name means “Valley Song,” but the translation “Harvest Song” fits in better with Google’s reasoning. Gu Ge, says Forbes, “draws on rural Chinese traditions to describe a fruitful and rewarding experience.”
One might also note that the term “harvest” is more closely related to “retrieve.” Gu Ge is the only alternative name Google uses worldwide.
(Before you speculate on name-change reasoning based on the legendary Coca-Cola “bite the wax tadpole” snafu, read up on half-myth here. Then research the Chevy Nova in Spanish-speaking countries too – we wouldn’t want you to embarrass yourself at the next foreign-market meeting.)
According to the Wall Street Journal, Google CEO Eric Schmidt downplayed monetary motives for moving into the Chinese market.
“China is important not for revenue, though more revenue is always good,” Schmidt told reporters in Beijing.” China is important because a fifth of the world’s population lives in China, and a large proportion of them will be Internet users.”
Reaching the masses has been the central counterweight in Google’s argument for agreeing to censor its search engine results on servers located within Chinese borders. Some estimates count 200 million Internet users in the communist nation.
According to the WSJ, Schmidt said the company had received no complaints from Chinese users about censoring results.
The same can’t be said for neighboring democracy and former Chinese province Taiwan. Google was publicly lambasted by Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian for choosing profits over freedom of speech.
Schmidt defended Google’s position in China by reiterating the company’s goal to serve up information to Chinese citizens while being committed to obeying Chinese law.