Why did Google cave in to Chinese censorship? Because of American accounting principles. In the US (and, increasingly, elsewhere) a listed business reports to its shareholders every 90 days. The next quarter’s results are all that matters. Anything that ‘impacts’ three or more quarters into the future is not the legitimate concern of Google’s management. Google’s cooperation with the Chinese Government makes sense only in this very short-term view – and Google’s share price will, I’m sure, reflect this.
In the long term (three, five, ten years or more) the wise decision would have been to side with the Chinese people. They will, after all, one day be in charge in China and they will remember Google’s (and Yahoo’s and MSN’s…) decision to side with the miserable old men who run the place now. Google and the others may have bought themselves the short-term approval of their shareholders but, I like to think, they have also bought the very long-term disapproval of a largish proportion of 1.5 billion increasingly-wired Chinese consumers.