Government aid key to Google growth: analysts


TAIPEI — A visit to Taiwan by a top official of Google Inc. implies that the search engine is improving its relationships with policymakers amid the trend toward the high-speed mobile era, analysts said yesterday. Marvin Ma, an analyst at the International Data Corp. (IDC), told CNA in a telephone interview that Google Chairman Eric Schmidt “talked about how to improve the infrastructure of broadband, which is critical to the future of companies like Google.”

“The mobile device market is growing fast, but some governments are too slow to release frequency spectrums or 4G licenses,” he said.

“If telecom operators need to spend more to collect capital or are constrained by policies, infrastructure upgrades will be delayed, which will be unfavorable to Google,” he added.

In a keynote address delivered in a speech the previous day on how the IT business engages in innovation, Schmidt said Google and telecom operators are “co-dependent” because consumers need to reach Google’s services through fixed or wireless networks.

Schmidt urged the government to help improve the legal environment for the innovation community, as well as to make adjustments in its policies to keep up with the growing pace of the high-tech industry.

“Compared with South Korea, the Taiwan government has not offered enough support to the mobile industry,” said Kelly Hsieh, an associate manager at the Taipei-based Topology Research Institute (TRI).

“Google is eying the huge China market, but it’s hard to build a data center there due to concerns about security and government censorship,” she said. “This is why Google decided to build a data center in Taiwan.”

Since some Taiwanese telecom operators, such as Chunghwa Telecom Co., have formed close partnerships with China Mobile Ltd. on fiber networks, it will be easier for foreign companies to enter the Chinese market with the help of Taiwan’s major carriers, Hsieh said.

Google announced Sept. 28 that it plans to acquire 15 hectares of land in Changhua County, central Taiwan, for NT$3 billion to build a data center that can provide the search engine’s users in Taiwan and Asia with faster access to its services.

The plan was welcomed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs as a project that will draw more foreign investment, while President Ma Ying-jeou described Google’s decision to be a gesture of support for his policy of positioning Taiwan as a global hub for innovation.