Google launches SMS search in China

Google mobile

Google recently launched its SMS search service in China. By sending an SMS to 999333 1069999333 you can now access a huge amount of information; venues addresses, weather forecasts, translation tools…

Those of you who have been living in China for a while must know Guanxi, which provides such kind of services. You must also remember the numerous SPAM messages you received after using it, the repetitive changes of number and the inconsistent listings. And don’t even mention the price: over 1 yuan for each SMS sent, when it mustn’t cost them more than a couple maos a piece! Well, Google proposes its services for the price of a regular SMS, and I am pretty sure they will bring a valuable experience in that field (especially regarding usability). Just have a look at the official Google page and give it a try, their number has already replaced Guanxi’s on my mobile phone.

This being said, Alvin Wang Graylin, CEO of mInfo, does not seem to be sharing my enthusiasm. In a comment left on Digital Watch, the company that acquired Guanxi last summer he said that he thought Google had “a lot of catching up to do” to be competitive with their offer. I do agree with him that “taking the keyword based US engine and porting it to Chinese just isn’t going to be enough in this market”. There are plenty of examples of successful worldwide companies struggling to penetrate the Chinese market; remember eBay vs. Taobao, or even Google vs. Baidu. China does require a specific strategy, and even a mammoth such as Google could be defeated by a local company. Though, considering the simplicity of SMS technologies, Google’s previous experience in China and their almost unlimited financial and technical resources, I doubt they should be considered as just another competitor.