Google has played second fiddle to rivals who invested much earlier, perfected their technology to work with local languages and came up with innovations that Google is now having to copy.
World newspapers joined to call for the U.S. Justice Department to reject the Yahoo-Google deal yesterday, which is odd not only because the deal won't reach beyond the U.S., but also because Google isn't always the dominant search engine outside its home country. A story in today's Financial Times reminded us of this, pointing out that in China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and the Czech Republic, Google comes in second to the five companies below.In Russia, 46 percent of all search queries go through Yandex, which the FT says plans to list itself on a US stock market this spring. Seznam sees 63 percent of all searches in the Czech Republic. Google exec Mohammad Gawdat says its for a good reason, telling the FT his company "did not initially match the locals in the quality of its local language results." CEO Eric Schmidt says Google has an excuse in China, where the government favored local company Baidu, which still controls 60 percent of all local searches .“All of us should tell the Chinese that their local markets need to be open to foreign investment, they need not favor their local competitors," Schmidt told the FT. Japanese Internet users prefer portals to Google's simple search engine. It's one reason Google actually trails Yahoo in the country. Naver in South Korea owns 60 percent of the search market. Portals are popular in the country, too. Naver's most successful feature, according to the FT, is a questions and answers service similar to Yahoo Answers. Google recently acqured blogging software company TNC in hopes of becoming more portal-like in South Korea. The common theme among Google's global failures? Summarizes the FT: