Google Maps fails to apply for license, faces shutdown

14:07, April 01, 2011      

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Google has not applied for its Internet mapping license and all Internet mapping services that have not applied for the license will be shut down on July 1, said an official from the State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping (SBSM).

Google's business in China has suffered one setback after another, the most recent of which came when its search engine technology was abandoned by Sina.

The official said that the SBSM has not received Google's application. Enterprises in the Internet mapping service industry must obtain relevant qualifications and submit their applications by March 31 in accordance with the new regulations released by the SBSM in 2010. Administrative departments will adopt measures on July 1 to firmly punish the serious delinquent behaviors of enterprises that do not submit the application.

After passing the regulations, the SBSM issued Internet mapping licenses to 105 websites, including China's domestic enterprises, such as Baidu, Sina and China Mobile, as well as the Nokia joint venture company in China in mid-February.

It has long been a hot topic in China whether Google, an excellent online map provider, will submit an application and gain a license for its online mapping service. In fact, Google has had a hard time doing business in China since it withdrew from the Chinese mainland last March.

Google had disputes with seven of its business agents based in eastern China and failed to renew search service contracts with Tianya and Sina. In addition, there have been concerns that Google China may not pass the next ICP annual inspection.

According to sources, Google is having difficulties renewing the mapping license mainly due to its decision to withdraw from the Chinese mainland. Furthermore, foreign-funded enterprises are subject to stricter restrictions when getting such a license. Even after being approved by the SBSM, they will still have to gain the approval of the state security department.

It is worth noting that Google has reportedly sent some staff to participate in the bureau's second round of relevant "standards" training, which was regarded as a signal that Google would submit an application for its mapping service. However, since an application is still missing, Google Maps is very likely to cease operations in China.

Analysts noted that Google China's declining market share indicates less outside competitors for Chinese Internet companies. However, it may not be good for the healthy development of the nation's Internet industry in the long run, not to mention that users' interests will be damaged. Complicating things further is China's strict management over its Internet sector, which makes it impossible for Google China to reverse the drop in its market share in the foreseeable future.

By People's Daily Online

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