back to article So you’d sod off to China to escape the EU, Google? Really?

Google structures its entire organisation to avoid privacy laws, minimise taxes and de-risk itself from competition oversight*. Today Google’s European supremo hinted that being in China might be less of a hassle, and that losing Google would serve us Europeans right for being so backward. Of course, it’s a sheer coincidence …

  1. Craig 2

    Sounds like the first exchanges of "big threats" that usually precede these kind of investigations...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They are more than welcome to

    There will be quite a few willing to step in DoubleClick's place. Usual suspects from Seattle, Yandex, Baidu - you name it.

    While there will be a temporary inconvenience and upheaval, on the balance of things DoubleClick is NOT irreplaceable. This is a natural consequence of building your offering on top of open source tech - the barrier to replacement (aka barrier to entry is lowered). Presently the sole thing which prevents new entrants into the market is the sheer size of DoubleClick (that should be the correct name of the company based on ideology and behavior) and contractual obligations levied on all Android phone manufacturers. If that is removed and DoubleClick buggers off to pastures new... Well... I give it 3 months for the niche to be filled.

    It will also be a positive development as the new entrants are likely to be playing by new tax rules, not by "move all of your income to a Double Dutch Irish Sandwich in Virgin Islands".

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: They are more than welcome to

      Yes Matt, sounds like a very good plan to me. Take Faecebook with you too please.

      And close the door behind you.

  3. ratfox

    Android has an overwhelming market share; phone makers might well feel that they need Android. Google services are a bit lower, and there are makers doing without, with more or less success. Amazon has tried, and it's not actually thriving. Then there are Chinese no-name companies which might be flourishing for all we know.

    1. Daggerchild Silver badge

      AFAIK, most Chinese handsets are Androids that aren't using Google's services, and instead there are multiple equivalent alternative ecosystems of significant size. I don't think Google sees a penny from any of it.

      The West could make its own alternatives, but the competitors aren't willing to work together to quilt the large hole Google's services would leave.

      1. Pseu Donyme

        >The West could make its own alternatives...

        In theory yes, but in practice not really. The linchpin is the app store, which affords Google a stranglehold on the mobile market akin to what Microsoft has with PCs*. This is because of the network effect, where the value of a product or service is dependent on the number of others using it; in practice this means that once a player in a market gains some advantage to competition this will snowball into a self-amplifying cycle of increasing advantage resulting in a (de facto) monopoly, which also tends to be persistent because of the massive advantage from the network effect is also results in a practically insurmountable barrier of entry.

        * the more people use Windows software [Google Play], the more sense it makes to develop software for Windows instead of other platforms [distribute via Google Play instead of other app stores], which results in more people using Windows software, which results in more Windows software being developed, which results in more people using Windows software, ...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The difference is that it is a lot easier for a developer to offer his app to app stores beyond just Google Play, than it is for a developer to port his Windows app to OS X or Linux.

          I'm assuming that Google doesn't disallow distributing their apps via alternate app stores if they want them on Google Play. Someone correct me if that's wrong.

          So the recipe for a successful alternate app store would seem to be enticing the developers of a lot of major apps on Google Play to offer them through your app store as well. The only way to do that is by promising them more money - that is, pay the developers of popular apps like Facebook and Angry Birds to offer them via your app store also. That would be pretty expensive, but might be the only way for someone to be successful with their own non-Googly version of Android.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        "AFAIK, most Chinese handsets are Androids that aren't using Google's services, and instead there are multiple equivalent alternative ecosystems of significant size. I don't think Google sees a penny from any of it."

        Indeed they don't. Arguably this could be seen as a monumental miss by Google - there's over a billion Chinese people few of whom are contributing to Google's profits. Yet it is Google who have to put the money into Android to make it shiny, etc.

        Normally such a miss would be of significant concern to a company's shareholders, and that in turn would be a bad (potentially really bad) thing for the company's board. However in Google's case they make such large profits anyway that this miss is somewhat masked, and there are certain off-putting difficulties in operating Google-like services in a Western way inside China.

        Google are destined to be broken up at some point. It's the goal of any Internet services company to be the only Internet service provider (i.e. they've outgrown everyone else). Given how well Google have done this it's only a matter of time until some anti-trust thing gets going in the US.

        Google kinda need things like Bing, Yahoo, etc to succeed in a significant way otherwise they'll find it hard to argue that they're not a monopoly (though many would argue that they already are...). Charging money and imposing nasty conditions in return for a binary blob without which an Android phone is virtually unmarketable is very monopolistic indeed. AFAIK, in comparison Microsoft give Windows Mobile to the manufacturers (the few who are left) for free.

    2. Law

      Except Amazon are thriving with android... Sure, not in mobile - it was underpowered and over priced. Same goes with their tablets, but then their fire TV v1/2, and fire stick are big hits and are based on android.

      They've also got their own android app store, and release their apps over several app stores.

  4. Arctic fox

    So you’d sod off to China to escape the EU, Google? Really?

    I for one would love them to try. I'm sure the Chinese authorities would welcome them with open arms. After all the Chinese are well known for their affection for companies that think that they can show the State the middle finger.

    1. JohnG

      Re: So you’d sod off to China to escape the EU, Google? Really?

      In the EU, companies falling foul of the law can be fined and their directors/managers might suffer some impact to their finances and/or career progression. In China, some businessmen have been executed for breaking the law.

      1. Danny 14

        Re: So you’d sod off to China to escape the EU, Google? Really?

        And im aure the chinese wouldnt plunder any of googles secrets.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Go to China - go ahead

    And move there personally as well, please.

    See how well you do when your HQ is cut off from the rest of the world because the Chairman didn't like a remark you made on Twitter. See how easy it will be to get things running again when you cannot contact any government employee because as soon as you say your name they hang up on you. Try to get a meeting with a high-ranking official and see how it is to be told that he is busy and cannot see you before the end of next month.

    You're used to calling the shots around here. I'm pretty sure the first thing Beijing will do is put you back in your place and hard. You'll be begging them to let you run your business again, and they'll keep the leash tight once you've gotten the message.

    No, you won't go to China. You're much more comfortable calling senators on a whim.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Go to China - go ahead

      Good luck making *any* remarks on Twitter in China, let alone ones that the Chairman wouldn't like.

    2. PNGuinn
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Go to China - go ahead

      Sounds like a "Good Idea"(TM) all round then!

      Bottom Line:

      If they sod off to china - would I trust 'em? Answer - NO.

      If they stay where they are - would I trust 'em? Answer - NO.

      Under which option would I trust 'em less? Answer - Errr ...

  6. John Lilburne

    So you’d sod off to China to escape

    Is there somewhere we can chip in to buy them a one way ticket?

  7. dave 93

    Amazon created a whole ecosystem based on the Open Source Android

    Google, can reasonably argue that other vendors are able to create a Google Free Android, because Amazon have done just that. Amazon's Fire devices don't work properly without Amazon proprietary code, just like Google's Android devices. Apple also bundle a set of proprietary apps with iOS, and I have to admit that, personally, I don't have a problem with the creators of a platform installing some proprietary software for free - I don't have to use it if I don't like it.

    Maybe the Brexit campaigners could use this as a USP for an independent, data haven, for the likes of Google, Amazon et al?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "with the creators of a platform installing some proprietary software for free"

      You mean just like installing for free IE and Media Player in Windows?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Protectionism is the battle-cry of yankee imperialists.

    I can't help but be impressed by China's home-grown tech companies, but they needed the protection to get established.

    Like the Chinese, I'd prefer European tech companies founded on European values. The only way that could ever happen is if regulators squeezed yankee balls until they "choose" to fuck off out of the market.

    I personally avoid Google 99%, but competition can't flourish all the time they're hanging around like a bad smell.

    1. PNGuinn

      Re: Protectionism - squeezing yankee balls ...

      I'm all in favour of that - PROVIDED the septics can squeeze euroballs as well.

      Include all the grubbyment critters and bureaucrats and we have the makings of whole new super league spectator sport.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Protectionism

      "I can't help but be impressed by China's home-grown tech companies, but they needed the protection to get established."

      That depends on how much of their business is software. In software, you can "catch up" with the West simply by copying stuff. Actual manufacturing capability takes a few rounds of evolution, but you at least know what processes you are trying to perfect. I am therefore never surprised when a "third world" country catches up with the West in just a few decades.

      Pulling ahead requires genuine skill and is no easier or harder for any country than any other. That said, there are simply more people in China than elsewhere, so if they have the education system sorted out (unlike us, sheesh!) then they are a very credible threat. In this context I would note the thousands of graduates from China who go to other parts of the world to study at a graduate or post-doctoral level. There's not much wrong with their education system. Right now, our best hope is that those students notice how much nicer it is to live outside China than inside it.

  9. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Today Google’s European supremo hinted that being in China might be less of a hassle, and that losing Google would serve us Europeans right for being so backward.

    Don't let the door hit you on your way out, Matt! Bon voyage!

  10. WibbleMe

    At least they do not blackhole emails from small companies not using there server unlike some Mic... email hosting suppliers

    1. Steve Foster


      Except that Google do indeed do just that - or at least, they were doing so when they were the outsourced mail provider for Virgin Media (for email from one [!] of several identically-configured domains on a shared mail server).

      Recently, Hotmail have reverted to rejecting email rather than silently swallowing it, so that I do at least know that messages have not been delivered (I'm still peeved that we're being blacklisted without good cause).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Presumably we could all just switch to Yahoo! or Bing if Google goes...

    We'd be fine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Presumably we could all just switch to Yahoo! or Bing if Google goes...

      Duck Duck Go FTW

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Presumably we could all just switch to Yahoo! or Bing if Google goes...

      You might have to choose between Microsoft and the Daily Mail then.

      I remember when google were the upstart darlings and cute little friendly outfit. Now the have overtaken Microsoft in the most hated evil presence league and are second only to Faecebook.

    3. The obvious

      Re: Presumably we could all just switch to Yahoo! or Bing if Google goes...

      I wouldn't be so sure about that, try blocking say... and see how your web experience fares. I've been looking into it and basically the only way to completely avoid googly eyes is to implement a firewall with a pretty invasive content adaption filter on http.

      I tried to setup firewall rules but it was just impossible, now I am building a pfsense/squid box and an icap server to actually find out how hard it I to not use google services at all... when i noticed even my OpenWRT based router talks to googly overlords when it establishes a connection - I have the wireshark trace to prove it.

    4. PNGuinn

      Re: Presumably we could all just switch to Yahoo! or Bing if Google goes...

      That's the real problem.

      There'll be plenty of vipers just salivating over the opportunities to fill ie monetise the vacuum.

  12. naive

    Google gives everything away for free, so how in heaven can EU extort google ?

    Except for maybe a few dimes in the playstore, i do not pay google at all. But they give me Android, Google search/maps/pictures/earth.. and many things more for FREE !.

    The beauty is, their software works well, have well thought of user interfaces which make me feel happy to use them.

    Google became big because people love to use it, they do not have to. So what is the case of the whiners ?, maybe they should just make things better than google does, and offer them for free too.

    That is "free market competition", not doing nothing for decades and then start crying when somebody smart scooped up the market. Internet services provided by European companies on a relevant scale just do not exist, and never will in a continent filled with little tribes speaking all different languages.

    1. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

      Re: Google gives everything away for free, so how in heaven can EU extort google ?

      You're probably (if you ever come back to look) wondering why you've been downvoted.

      The problem you demonstrate so well is that Google have built this huge image of offering "free" services. They don't - nothing from Google is free, the cost may not be monetary, but there is a real cost.

      There are several aspects to their behaviour that are worthy of note.

      The main one is their ability to cross fund anything they like from their huge income - basically they can enter any market they choose and "buy share" in a way that no other company (not even Microsoft) can manage. Microsoft used to do that, and were found guilty of it in the US IIRC. Such behaviour is illegal both in the US and Europe because it allows a big player to increase it's dominance by targetting and eradicating smaller competitors - Google, Microsoft, IBM, Standard Oil, ... Google hasn't been found guilty (yet), IBM (if memory serves me right) got the case dropped after many years of preparation right after a new president was elected - one that IBM had provided much funds to during the election campaign. Hmm, IBM funding a president and getting a case dropped, Google funding a president ...

      But in this case, it's the question of whether their action has harmed consumer choice. If every* Android device must come bundled with all the Google apps (which the user can't even remove) then that distorts competition. Firstly, it's hard to make money selling mousetraps if some b'stard is giving them away free (c.f. Microsoft and internet exploder which was also bundled, made non-removable, and given away free) - so other companies will struggle to sell enough of an app to cover the cost of development. That means there is less choice available.

      Secondary to that, there is the issue that all these bundled apps aren't free - they all slurp your data so that Google can sell you to their real customers, the advertisers. It's really really really hard to prevent this leakage - and that's by design because the last thing Google wants is for users to actually have any privacy from them.

      * Excluding the small number that come without any of the stuff

      1. naive

        Re: Google gives everything away for free, so how in heaven can EU extort google ?

        Part of the criticism on google i can understand, except from their de-facto monopoly on widely used internet services, their tax avoidance tricks does not add much to the love legislators feel for the company.

        There is choice, much more than 10 years ago, when it was virtually impossible to avoid MS or Intel if one wanted internet access. One can buy Iphone or a Chinese Android without google ties.

        The word google is for me the same as the word innovation and progress. There is not a single company which kept innovating for over 20 years and did not go into the "just milking the cash cow phase to optimize shareholder value" like MS and Apple did after initial breakthrough with one product.

        The whole Android thing is funny. Google gets slapped for "Android fragmentation" and failure to patch security holes on Android devices. Apple uses policies towards Iphone which are close to fascism, but then Google is the bad guy for requiring apps to be sold over their appstore so there is at least basic control on the stuff that is being rolled out ?.

        Besides from this all, the EU commission are no angels, they hope to get a few hundred millions out of it so they can buy new Audi A8's for them selves. They allow in the EU that Bosch gets a monopoly on car parts like filters, probably because of German interests. BMW spark plugs which are $3,- in the US, cost E 16,- in the EU.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Google gives everything away for free, so how in heaven can EU extort google ?

      So you are happy that the internet/web becomes dominated by a few giant corporations because they offer you a few sweets? They are like a giant creeping ivy all over the services.

      All those things are not free, they are getting revenue from somewhere, so indirectly you are paying. And when they all the control they want, you will pay more. Think it through.

      And Android user interfaces "well thought out" LOL!

    3. Chronos
      Big Brother

      Re: Google gives everything away for free, so how in heaven can EU extort google ?

      For the avoidance of doubt, "free" is simply a have now, pay later with your privacy deal. It's worth remembering, when June rolls along, that we didn't even have a right to the expectation of privacy before the HRA 1998. Ms May&co wants to repeal that[1] but even that would be a pointless gesture until the shadow of the ECtHR is removed. Be careful with that vote, folks. You may have someone's eye in.

      OTOH, I can't help wondering if Call-me-Dave's special exception on closer political integration renders that a moot point.

      [1] George Carlin once said a right isn't a right if someone can take it away. It's just a temporary privilege.

  13. Tom 7

    First the neo-liberals take Ayn Rands childrens books as a good idea

    and now Google is using the Adams creation 'The Party' as the way to run a company...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is that the same China..

    Is that the same China Google bailed from a few years ago because they couldn't get any traction because of Baidu.. what?

    Oh, sorry, Google Marketing says it was because of the Chinese spying on them, because that sounds better to shareholders. Admitting the truth would share prices My bad.

    But it's that China, yes?

    Be my guest, Google, please do. If I were the EU I'd give you a fiver to be on your way, tomorrow.

  15. kain preacher

    A first I was why wouldn't they just move every thing to the America. Then it hit me. If the did that they might actually have to pay taxes.

  16. Daggerchild Silver badge

    But at least they're not Google, eh?

    "But if he thinks Google will get an easy ride in China, a nation that’s proud of its own technology companies and does what it can to ensure they succeed, we’ll gladly have some of what he’s smoking."

    I shall tell you a true story. A specialist tech team goes to China, to apply their tech to a seriously complex problem. They analyse, plan, execute, and instrument. The result works and they leave.

    Then they get called back. It's not working. The client is furious and demands it be fixed now or they will not be paid. They return. It's not working because it has been dismantled and reverse engineered, but unfortunately not well enough to replicate and restore it. Amongst angry flat-denials, and under intense scrutiny, they diagnose, repair and replace.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But at least they're not Google, eh?

      Amongst angry flat-denials, and under intense scrutiny, they diagnose, repair and replace.

      .. and see their market destroyed when a Chinese company starts to offer the now reviewed and repaired product at prices with which they cannot compete. Eventually, lowest bid customers realise it's not quite as good as the original product because the company lacks any understanding of the fundamentals and cannot address issues, let alone continue to innovate on those principles, but by that time the original business has gone under.

      But that's not the case with Google in China. Google thought it could use the bully tactics it used in the US and EU market in China as well, but received a big "f*ck off" message from the Chinese. Google then cooked up the espionage BS story to explain why they were leaving China, because admitting they failed miserably to make as much as a dent in that market would have taken a goodly sized lump out of their image and share price.

      1. Daggerchild Silver badge

        Re: But at least they're not Google, eh?

        ".. and see their market destroyed when a Chinese company starts to offer the now reviewed and repaired product at prices with which they cannot compete"

        No, not the product - the service. The techniques you pioneered. The technologies you used. The skills and the arts you developed, all carbon copied, after you graciously did the expensive R&D for them.

        After China eats the world's production industry, they will fight with India over the world's services industry. And by fight I mean China will let them have anything they don't want.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give it...

    ...a couple of months and they might be able to relocate to the UK to avoid the EU.

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: Give it...

      Well, England, maybe.

  18. Jan 0 Silver badge

    EU Backward?

    So what does that say about the U.S. of A? Even more backward?

    Get behind the Great Wall Mr. Brittin. We probably won't miss you.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: EU Backward?

      Well, he actually said "... China, and Asia-Pacific and Silicon Valley ..." That includes a lot in Asia that is not "China," and given the lack of internal trade barriers, includes the entire USA and, for practical purposes probably Canada and Mexico.

  19. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Chinese industrial strategy

    is measured in decades.

    Unlike most (not all, but most) UK/US strategy which is measure in quarters (although I have worked in companies where "month-end" was a bunfight).

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's so special about Google

    Frankly I can live without Google, just like the days when it did not exist - it's more or less a big advertising board like most other "social media".

    I shall find/buy myself an uninhabited (not uninhabitable) island and live there till Armageddon, one that has a hill tall enough to escape to when a tsunami hits.

    A/C as I don't want to be seen as being in a cult :P

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Google Services

    "The argument is that you couldn’t make a competitive Android without Google’s services, even the Google services you didn’t want. This, the argument goes, unfairly closed the market to promising alternatives such as HERE Maps"

    Well this is what destroyed Blackberry's last hope of surviving in the market alongside Android using their cunningly designed Android compatibility layer. It worked really well - most Android apps start up happily on the BB10 platform ...

    ... but then refuse to run because Google Services is missing.

    I don't know whether BB chose to implement a stub of Google Services, or whether the licensing for Android forced them to ... but it was this which ultimately was the archilles heel in the rescue plan which led to the final demise of the BB10 platform.

  22. DryBones

    Learn to Read

    Every single one of you has failed to read what he actually SAID. Let's try it again.

    “If the services and products they are using are not made in Europe then they will be made in China, and Asia-Pacific and Silicon Valley, and that will be a big missed opportunity."

    AKA if the EU want to be berks about coding and such done in their territory it will be taken elsewhere. I read reams of anecdotes about coding in China, Korea, Taiwan, and the Asian coders that Google employs are proof that they have a valid worker pool there. It does NOT however say that Google is moving to China, nor that work will be done EXCLUSIVELY there.


    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Learn to Read

      No, I think most people are pretty clear about what he said, but are not that happy about what is tantamount to blackmail. Such behaviour from a jerk of person like that should always be thrown straight back in his face.

    2. MSLiermann

      Re: Learn to Read

      No idea how stamping on Google's dick until they start paying taxes and stop serially violating their users' privacy will somehow prevent code being written in Europe. Believe it or not, people were writing code (and - gasp! - using the internet to do it) before Google came about.

  23. Law


    If you want fast accurate location data, your device needs Google Play Services OR build your own OR plug into somebody elses.

    "If you want the best app store, that’s Google’s, but you could try bundling others that still out app windows app store, such as Amazon app store.

    Some apps will just refuse to run if they are side loaded onto a device and don't have the required dependencies."

    I'm not saying Google don't need a good kicking over privacy, taxes and being evil in general... But it's not all Google, most android consumers want play store and google services.

  24. JustNiz

    I expect this is mostly bluff since it would be a stupid move for Google, but if not, oh well. This is what you get in a global free market economy. Get over it. Protectionism has even more problems.

  25. cmaurand

    Ubuntu for phones is starting to look better and better.

  26. jake Silver badge


    google has been furiously trying to Balkanize it's self for a couple years now.

    Me, I just block 'em at the firewall. No trouble, no loss, no worries.

  27. Sirius Lee

    Yes, just whine at Google

    The real European problem is that European investors do not invest. Why is there no viable competitor to Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, VMWare, and many others? Why is it that EU regulators think the best way they can control Google is through restrictive legislation?

    I'm sure the anti-Google commentards on here will be appalled at that idea that maybe, just maybe, the reason investors invest in US companies - that gone to abuse the locals - is because they have intellectual property protection. In Europe there is no protection for software and so no protection for investment. As a result there is no innovation worth the name and what little there is bought by US companies.

    I know, I know, allowing software patents is a disgusting idea to many who haunt these forums, but the reality is there are no competitive EU services. A few try to make their mark in some dingy subset of Google's business but don't have the investment available to create the user base necessary to create a viable competitive business.

    Translation is a great example. The EU is stuffed full of languages. But instead of seeing an opportunity, EU companies tried to charge high rates for (admittedly good) manual translations. But there was no coordinated research into automating the process leaving the gate open to Google, a US company. Now if you want translation that's good enough you go to Google and get it for free.

    Sure, you are not going to win awards for the quality of the translation of your web site into Latvian but it doesn't cost anything and may you will gain some clients then pay for 'proper' translation if you know it's worth the cost.

  28. andyUK

    May I be the first to say...


  29. Stevie


    There ought to be somewhere one could add a few seconds of themselves laughing as a video petition that Google stop talking out of their corporate arse.

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