April 2006 Archives

Google doesn't seem to draw much comfort from its activities in China. Earlier this year, the world's largest media company copped some flak over the launch of Google.cn, a local version of its search engine that saves people the trouble of clicking through links that are inaccessible from China. A recent Keynote survey declared Google to be China’s “best search engineâ€? as far as user experience goes, but the American giant is still trailing behind local rival Baidu, which controls roughly 50% of the local market (according to some surveys).

The latest episode in the Google China saga features the unveiling of the company’s local name, GuGe, (pronounced Goo as in “gooâ€? and Ge(r) as in “girlâ€? without the “rlâ€?). As multinational giants forage into new markets, they are required to add a local dimension to their identity and make it easier for consumers to pronounce and remember their brand names. Most Asian languages cater for foreign names: Thai, Korean, Indian, and Vietnamese all have phonetic alphabets, and the Japanese have Katakana, a syllabary (yes, this is an English word) script commissioned exclusively to accommodate foreign words and expressions.

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