Google's software lab in China released its first product last week, an application for writing in Pinyin, the Chinese system of character romanization. When I first saw the product, I thought it seemed redundant...after all I and everyone else who ever writes in Chinese has been able to do this for a long time.
Turns out its more redundant than I thought...to the degreet that it may have been plagiarized. Users have noticed an idiosyncratic error common to both the Google application and the Pinyin system used by Sogou, a Chinese search engine. When users try to type in the words, pinggong, the name Feng Gong (a Chinese actor and comedian) appears, both in Sogou and Google's product. Seems like a strange coincidence, eh?
Google commented on the new software Friday:
"Two days ago we launched our Chinese Pinyin Input Method Editor (IME) as a test product in Google Labs. Based on feedback from users and our own testing, we made a number of updates to the product this morning. Like all Labs releases our IME product is a work in progress, and we expect to continue to improve it over time," Google said via email on Friday.
The statement doesn't address the plagiarism concerns, raising more suspicions, and PC World writes that a source within Sogou owner Sohu has suggested there will be legal action.
Just when I thought that Google's respect for copyright law was what was keeping them behind in the race with Baidu...I guess that's one less excuse.