April 03, 2009

Why Google's free music deal in China is so important, and what it may really mean Image via CrunchBase I have mentioned Google's music-related activities in China a few times during the past 2 years; and just yesterday this topic seems to have heated up considerably. I think these developments are crucial and need further exploration. As you may know, Google owns a good chunk (or all?) of the Chinese search engine Top100.cn, one of the biggest rivals of the Chinese super-portal and ruling search giant, Baidu. However, Google is still a more or less distant second in the Chinese search market (in 2008, Google had approx. 16.6% vs Baidu's 76.9%) and really needs its Top100 property to better compete with Baidu. The major issue here is - you guessed it - the availability of CONTENT- or rather, the simple displaying of links to millions of music & film files that those hungry freeloaders i.e. digital natives want to stream or download. Baidu allows this - in fact, thrives on it - while Google / Top100 does not (i.e. it filters and removes the links to the files). This is a huge handicap for Google, because the filtering of those content-links is basically driving away all of those 100s of millions of Chinese Internet users that are looking for just that. Realizing that the real value of the users is in their participation and engagement, and then in paying-with-attention, Google has clearly pursued a strategy akin to the 'Music Like Water' model that I (and Dave Kusek, my partner-in-crime for "The Future of Music") have also described countless times: Google will simply provide the platform where music can be turned into money, by connecting the user with the content they want right where they already are (i.e. the search page), while gradually but aggresively monetizing their presence and their clicks via 3rd party payments - and...

Gerd Leonhard

Keynote Speaker, Think-Tank Leader, Futurist, Author & Strategist, Idea Curator, some say Iconoclast | Heretic, CEO TheFuturesAgency, Visiting Prof FDC Brazil, Green Futurist

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