Google is facing big challenges in China. Google was talking about the “don’t be evil” philosophy, which I respect a lot. However, how to make it happen in China is not an easy answer.
The question I asked Kai Fu twice was: “You always talk about Google’s principle. When in certain geography (China) and certain period of time (these 10 years) that the principle conflict with user experience, what is your choice?”
I know many people may be surprised to see why a not-be-evil principle can hurt user experience. It does. If Google helps to find all information for users without censorship, users will experience DNS error for Google every few attempts. Leaving along all the censorship stuff, it is very bad user experience.
Good user experience means good business. Bad user experience means bad business. In China, it basically means if Google don’t do the censorship, they can very hardly please end user, and will face commercial failure.
I will admire Google as a great company if they fail in China just because of they stick to their principle, although it is strange to claim a company who don’t care about user experience is doing the right thing – in U.S., user experience means protecting the users. Here, it is not the case because of the existence of a great firewall.
It is the same as driving. Typically, traffic rules and road safety are consistent with each other. However, without feedback system to the road design department, there are many places in Shanghai that fall into a strange situation that the traffic rules are in conflict position with the road safety. To follow the rule means to drive dangerous. It is not easy to live in this environment. Hard decision everyday.
It seems the only solution is neither follow the bad rule (censorship or dangerous traffic signs) nor completely ignore rule or principle (user experience or safety). The ultimate solution is to fix the system and make the rule consistent with the goal. Before removing the conflict, it is really hard to make decisions or even praise or blame someone for doing something.