updated 06:10 pm EDT, Mon October 10, 2011
Problems hitting Android Google users exclusively
Chinese Android phone owners using two of Google's most popular apps, Gmail and Android Market, are reportedly being hit with outages or crippled performance. The problems apparently started on Saturday. They are widespread, Penn Olson said, affecting a number of mobile and broadband ISPs across the country.
Gmail itself appears to be accessible via the Google website. The problem is mainly with accessing Gmail through the app on an Android phone. This requires accessing the email service via Google's own special servers. It is these which are apparently being blocked.
Android Market also uses the Google servers. Although the app was blocked totally earlier today, it's reported to be running now, although with greatly reduced performance.
It's not totally clear why the Chinese government, which has been accused of creating the blockages and slowdowns, might have taken this action. It is possible it is punishing Google, in retaliation for the company enabling the Dalai Lama to chat with South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, using Google+ this past weekend. This came after the South African government, bowing to pressure from China, a major trading partner, had refused to grant the Tibetan religious leader a visa so that he might visit the archbishop for a face-to-face meeting on the occasion of the African leader's 80th birthday.
This is not the first time China has impacted Google. The Chinese government blocked Google+ in July, a week after Google launched its social networking service. Earlier, Google was angered enough by Chinese snooping on dissidents' Gmail accounts that it moved its offices out of mainland China.