China’s second-largest telecom services provider, China Unicom, has removed Google’s search engine from Android phones being sold for use in the country and prompted concerns that the largest telecom, China Mobile, could follow suit.
According to Computer Weekly, "if China Mobile follows Unicom’s decision to ban Google from its handsets, Google could find it very hard to re-enter China, said analysts. The world’s biggest mobile network operator offers more than a dozen smartphones based on Android and include[s] Google as a search option."
Both mobile and standard search engine optimization (SEO) in the Chinese market will be drastically changed as a result of the ongoing controversy, but no firm conclusions about the effects can be drawn as yet.
The move is one of the first incidents of backlash over Google’s decision to stop complying with Chinese government regulations that require search engines to limit access to some results pages that officials deem to be politically sensitive. The company reached that decision after implying that the Chinese government may have been complicit in cyber attacks against Google servers in January.