Google on Wednesday made itself more of a local player by launching its own Chinese input method editor (IME) to offer writers an alternative to writing Chinese characters.
Within hours of its release some Chinese websites began providing a free download service for the software.
Input method editors allow writers to write in Chinese characters using the alphabet keyboard. There are numerous well-established IMEs available to writers.
The IME is part of Google's desktop strategy, which incorporates the Google toolbar and desktop search, said an employee surnamed Ma with the Beijing office of Ogilvy Worldwide, the public relations agent of Google China.
It will not bring direct economic benefits to Google but will boost the loyalty of computer users, Ma added.
Ma said Google has considered developing IMEs for other languages but declined to give further details.
Google Chinese IME differs from others in virtue of its precision and versatility, according to a press release from Google China.
Google says its vast database of keywords, accumulated from its search services, gives its IME greater accuracy in selecting character combinations.
Many IMEs allow users to create libraries of frequently used character combinations, such as people's names.
IMEs have become so powerful and users so skilled they can input Chinese text as fast as people can write in English.
Google Chinese IME can be linked to a Gmail account, enabling users to customize a Chinese IME and have a personal dictionary that can follow them even when they log on from other computers, the press release added.
Some Chinese who tested the Google IME said Wednesday on the Internet that the response time of the new Google product is a bit slow, but they were delighted with its precision.