Shanghaiist got a good chuckle when “news” broke on April 1 that Google, the ubiquitous search engine (as if that needs to be explained) was bought by China’s Ministry of
MisInformation. This week, Eric Schmidt, the company’s head honcho is actually in Beijing. Coincidence? Or was he intrigued by CNN’s scintillating report “Eye on China“, and wanted to see the magically transforming “Middle Kingdom” for himself? Turns out, Mr. Schmidt is just doing his job as the CEO, coming here to schmooze with aspiring local business leaders, politicians and media whores who are all too eager to hear and print anything the man has to say. (Yeah, we’re just bitter that Shanghaiist wasn’t invited.)
We’ll spare you the usual shop talk about how China is “the world’s growth engine”, “an important market for us now and in the future”, blah blah blah — you can read it here and here. One newsworthy item did surface with Mr. Schmidt’s arrival: No, he didn’t board the wrong plane and ended up in Beirut instead of Beijing. Instead, Google has gone local again (the Ministry of Information wasn’t involved this time, or so we hear), and unveiled a Chinese name. From now on, Google will be known as “谷歌” (guge or “grain song”) in China, an agrarian theme of harvesting and celebration, a cocky shot across the bow to all present and future competitors (that’s you Baidu!), we think. Or, the term could mean “valley song”, perhaps a nod to the search giant’s Silicon Valley origin. We like the first take … feel free to come up with your own. Either way, the new name demonstrates “Google’s commitment to the China market”, according to Mr. Schmidt.
But the story doesn’t end there, oh no. While the net is dominated by the likes of Microsoft, Yahoo and Google, a few average Joes/Janes still managed to find a niche all to themselves — the cutthroat world of domain registration. Last year, Google paid US$1 million for the rights to “Google.cn”. As of yesterday, “valleysong.cn” has already been taken. (No, we weren’t fast enough — some company in Hangzhou got to it first — but, really, would Google ever be interested?) And guess who owns the domain “guge.com“? Google! And the site was registered way back in 2001 no less. Pretty slick, guys!
And before you go and try to buy “guge.cn” and “guge.com.cn” … stop. They are owned by companies in Xiamen (厦门华商盛世网络有限公司) and Beijing (创联万网国际信息技术（北京）有限公司), respectively.
guge.cn was bought in 2003 and guge.com.cn was just scooped up three months ago. Hmmm. Wonder if anyone is squatting on the URL for Shanghaiist’s Chinese name? What would that be? Shanghaiyishi? 上海义士? “The good man from Shanghai.” Sounds about right.
Images from The Register.