Google Strikes Back in China’s Holiday Migration Chaos

On: February 1, 2008
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About Pieter-Paul Walraven
Besides enjoying my MA New Media and doing research on Web 2.0 developments in China at the UvA I am working 2 days a week as a project assistant at KREM ( KREM is a web 2.0 oriented company which specializes in so called corporate social networks. Movies: Koyaanisqatsi, O Brother where art thou?, Amores Perros. When not studying: Golf!, running, traveling, China, Web 2.0. Books: Life of Pi, War and Peace, The World is Flat. Furthermore I am currently doing research on Web 2.0 in China and Chinese Web companies expanding overseas. For this MA thesis research I will travel to China on the 14th of April to interview the most prominent Chinese Web companies that have the ambition to expand internationally.


The last few weeks it has been in the news numerous times; in Guangzhou, South China, snow and ice storms have stranded tens of millions of people, most of them migrant workers traveling to their families to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Since the storms began on January 10 officials have tried to keep more travelers from coming to the stations by closing them off in order to prevent riots. Furthermore the government has urged migrant workers to cancel their travels for the New Year.

People that have decided or that have been forced to wait with their trip home for the annual reunion with their family have kept a close eye on the news for any useful information. Until recently up-to-date information about a specific train station or area was hard to find, even on the Internet, but yesterday Google has launched a new service that might change this.

Google strikes back in China’s Holiday Migration ChaosThe service, a Google map combined with news, weather and transportation aggregators, provides a great insight in the situation for a specific area or train station. By clicking on an icon the latest updates concerning air traffic, the weather situation or train and bus traffic pops up. It also shows the latest news on the left pane of the page.

It is remarkable how fast an innovative service that really understands the Chinese citizens, can be launched in China and what makes it even more remarkable is that is was created by a foreign company. Normally foreign companies fail in China because of their, among other reasons, painfully-slow-decision-cycle.

Google does a great job in gaining credibility and goodwill by offering such a practical service that primarily migrant workers can benefit from. This indicates that Google is willing to listen and that it makes an effort to really understand Chinese Web users. This is very important for foreign companies in China; companies that fail often underestimate cultural differences between the Western and the Chinese market.

the excellent China Web2.0 Review blog

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