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Google's Schmidt in China on heels of Apple's Cook

Shortly after Apple Inc.'s CEO Tim Cook visited China, Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of the United States-based Internet giant Google Inc., met Chinese mobile application developers during a visit to Beijing.

The move comes at a time when Google is trying to increase its presence in China's mobile sector, the world's largest smartphone market.

At a public event for mobile app developers yesterday, Schmidt gave tips on how to develop startup companies.

The visit follows Schmidt's private trip earlier this week to North Korea with former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

Earlier this week, Apple's Cook met Miao Wei, the minister of industry and information technology, and senior officials of China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. and China Mobile Ltd. during his visit to China.

Duncan Clark, chairman of market research company BDA China Ltd., said that Schmidt's visit to China was incidental, after his visit to North Korea.

However, Clark added that “both Google China's R&D presence in Beijing and its massive influence on the smartphone market through Android still give it a lot of heft here” despite the fact that local rival Baidu Inc has won the upper hand in recent times. Google's Android is the world's most widely used smartphone operating system.

In the third quarter of last year, Baidu had 78.6 percent of the Chinese search market, while Google had 15.4 percent, in terms of revenue, according to domestic research company Analysys International.

Google reached its peak in China in the fourth quarter of 2009, when it had 35.9 percent of the market. But the gap between Baidu and Google has been narrowing since then, especially after Google shut down its search engine operations on the mainland and started redirecting users to a Hong Kong-based search website in 2010.

Faced with a declining market share in China, Google is pushing into the mobile sector, trying to generate revenues from its mobile advertising products, which enable ads to be shown on mobile applications, mobile search results and online videos.

John Liu, corporate vice president of Google China, said earlier the mobile ad business is the company's fastest-growing business in the country.

Mobile ad requests via Google's products increased 120 percent from July 2011 to July 2012 in China. The country is one of Google's top five global markets in terms of ad request volume.

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