By on March 21, 2010

Talk about unfortunate timing of a product launch: Just as Google is getting ready to pack up and leave China, SAIC is making last preparations to launch their Google Android powered homegrown luxo-barge Roewe 350 at Beijing’s Auto Show (April 25 -May 2, 2010, I’ll be there.) The Rover Roewe will be added to the growing list of Google Android-based devices just as the spat between Google and China is turning into a full-fledged brawl.

According to ZD-Net, the Android platform will help the Roewe 350 “keep drivers and passengers connected to the web while on the open road.” The DVD and GPS system will be running the most recent OS release: Android 2.1. ZD-Net says “amenities include direct web access and real-time traffic reports. The system also provides access to chat applications.” (Don’t tell LaHood. He could start at trade war over driver distraction in China.)  Chinese drivers will be protected from the distractions of Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, Blogspot and more, as these sites are blocked in China anyway.

How the car will connect to the Internet is not clear yet. There is conventional GSM in China, which doesn’t have the bandwidth. Then there are two competing 3G standards. One, used by China Unicom, is compatible with worldwide UMTS standards, the other is a homegrown system that is used by the world’s largest mobile phone provider, China Mobile (527.398 subscribers as of January 2010.)

Google had planned to launch its Android phone in China in January with China Unicom, but delayed the launch over the row between Google and the Chinese government. The silence over RoeweÄs  network provider probably has a reason.

Government-owned China Daily reported yesterday that “Google will close its business in China next month and may announce its plans in the coming days.” The move appears to be definite.

A Google-obituary already appeared in China Daily, saying that “Google’s relations with the US government cannot be deeper. US media has said Google was the fourth-largest supporter of Barack Obama in his election campaign.”

Today, China’s state-owned news agency Xinhua launched a defiant op-ed missile in the direction of Mountain View: “Whether Google leaves or not, the Chinese government will keep its Internet regulation principles unchanged.”

There probably is a lot of head-scratching at government-owned SAIC over the choice of the Android platform. But there is no going back. According to China Car Times, production of the Roewe 350 has already started on March 17, including the gadgetry based on “the 2.1 Android operating system, which is the same as what you will find in Google’s latest Nexus handset.” If the Chinese will ever find the handset in China. In Hong Kong, the phone is available.

There are a lot of people who are convinced that a ghost lurks in the machine of the Toyota cars. Now imagine the magnitude of the fall-out if Google evacuates China, leaving Google-powered orphaned Roewes behind. Then, a Roewe 350 smashes into a group of bicyclists …

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5 Comments on “As Google Evacuates China, SAIC Launches Google Android Powered Car...”


  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Google’s decision to pull out of China earns them a lot of respect in my book.

    It troubles me that more US businesses don’t see the economic threat that China poses to the US in the future. Yes, there might be a lot of consumers and potential customers over there, but we aren’t careful we might let China grow into a more important market than the US, or in the worst case scenario, let China become a bigger world power, either of which must be avoided at all costs.

    I’d like to see all US businesses pull out of China as much as possible until China starts playing by the same rules everyone else has to. We are letting China grow too fast by ignoring environmental impact and basic worker safety regulations. The results are damaging to us economically as well as damaging in the broader humanitarian concerns.

    India should be the growth market we support. India has plenty of cheap labor, plenty of population, and thus far doesn’t seem to have any political designs of becoming a world power.

  • avatar
    pacificpom2

    Who cares about Google leaving China on a car site? I’m more interested in what appears to be a lcd screen for dash instruments. Now you can now reskin the instruments to whatever you desire. Customisation to the hilt. Plus wasn’t this style of dash in the new Jaguar’s? So the link between Roewe, Rover and Jaguar just got a little stronger.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicodemus

      fwiw, Jaguar and Rover are now owned by Tata, so there link is now very strong id say.

    • 0 avatar
      colin42

      Jaguar & Land Rover are owned by Tata but this is not in any way connected to Roewe

      When BMW sold Rover group to phoenix group then only leased to Rover name but included the rights to the MG name. Upon the collapse of MG Rover as it was then called BMW sold the rights to the Rover name to Ford, who brought it to protect the Land Rover brand. I think (but can’t be sure) that Ford sold the Rover name to Tata as part of the JLR deal

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    That thing’s got more blue lights than a K-Mart ad campaign.


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