Google apologizes for using Chinese software
The U.S. search engine giant Google has apologized because its new tool to ease searches in Mandarin used part of a software application developed by a Chinese rival.
"We are willing to face up to our mistake and offer an apology to users and to the Sohu company," Google Inc. said in a statement released in Beijing on Monday.
Searches using Chinese characters can be very difficult — a problem Google tried to ease with the Pinyin Input Method Editor, which enables users to input characters in Pinyin, a written system that uses Roman letters to represent sounds in Mandarin.
After the user types a few letters, the Google editor suggests possible corresponding characters.
Google said its system was based on the frequency of searches for certain Chinese words.
But it also said that surfers had identified some material that came from "non-Google data sources." It didn't give any more information.
Competition among search engines is fierce in China, where an estimated 137 million people can log on.
Google holds second place, behind Baidu.com Inc. but ahead of Yahoo and Sohu, which are in third and fourth places, respectively.