Google mobile service partially blocked in China

Google on Monday reported that its mobile Internet service in China was partially blocked but it was unknown whether the trouble was related to a stand-off over censorship there.

A website Google set up for people to track the status of its services in China showed that the US Internet giant's Mobile offering on Sunday joined Groups, Picasa and Docs as listed as "partially blocked."

"We can confirm that our status page indicates that Mobile services are partially blocked from within mainland China," a Google spokesman said in an email response to an AFP inquiry.

Mobile service availability fluctuates and it was too soon to be certain when the partial blockage was a retaliatory move by Chinese officials.

Google mobile includes search, blog, map, news and other services for smartphones and other Internet-enabled handsets.

Google-owned video-sharing website YouTube and a Blogger service for people to voice ideas, musings or observations online were completely blocked, according to the online "Mainland China service availability" list.

A face-off with China over online censorship culminated on March 22 with Google stopping its voluntary filtering of online search results in China.

Days later, China's second largest mobile phone operator said it will remove Google's search function from new handsets in response to the US Internet giant's tussle with Beijing.

China Unicom said the search function would be dropped from new phones using Google's Android mobile operating system.

China currently has at least 384 million Internet users, but it has more than 750 million mobile subscribers, many of whom access web content via their handsets.

In January, shortly after saying it could leave China altogether over web censorship and cyberattacks, Google postponed the launch of Android-based mobile handsets developed with Motorola and Samsung for China Unicom.

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