Will Google leave Europe?
Most of the new features introduced by Google are launched in the US first. The reasons why are several. Off course it's 'homeground' for Google, but also there is no language barrier and the market is big enough to get big usage right away. Sometimes the reason though is the way Europe handles its own legal issues.
Google faces a lot off obstacles getting their products launched in Europe. Most of the time this is because of privacy-issues. Why do you think Google Streetview isn't implemented around Europe yet? Because of the restrictions all the different goverments have.
In Europe it seems as if we are more reluctant when it comes to privacy-issues. On almost every conference there is a session about the privacy-issue. And almost all of the time it's about Google, which off course is not strange with Google being the major player in search in Europe. And every time we want to know: 'how much does Google know about us?' 'How much do we want them to know?' and 'What's allowed by law?'.
The last question is one that can be different for all European countries. Off course there is the European law. Google battled with the European Commission several times in the last couple of years. There was the issue around the takeover off Doubleclick which made the European Parliament frown and there was the everlasting issue on storing data. Google thereby made a step towards the EU by not storing data longer than six months, but still the EU is not satisfied. But also laws from the individual countries can be an obstacle.
Streetview is a very good example of how Google bumps into restrictions. Only major cities in France, Spain and Italy have allowed the Streetview cars to collect the data. Countries like Germany and Switzerland look like they have no intent to allow Google any more than they currently do.
This sunday Kevin O'Brien wrote a big article about this problem in the International Herald Tribune. He talkes about some of the major issues Google face in Europe. O'Brien notices that Google has invested a lot in Europe by opening offices in for example Dublin, Zurich, London, Denmark, Russia and Poland. Google also tried to enhance their image by opening offices in the important cities in Europe like Brussels making sure that it provides a lot of jobs for Europeans.
However if the company is not going to be able to forwarth like they do, how much time will it take before Google decides it's not worth it?
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