While many people consider the position of Google from many perspectives: the ethical stance, the US/Chinese relationship, and the commercial value lost, it should be noted that most Google consumers / people are reacting emotionally to something they really want from Google. Integrity.
The non-tech analysts are excited to see Google standing up and reversing the stance on filtering the Internet and not following the rules of the ruling party in China. It would be characterized as a move closer towards their “don’t be evil” mantra.
I don’t think the decision is based on ethics but it might play a part of how the news was announced. What is clear is there is a growing distrust of Google and the inclination to be just another company chasing the money and the consumers are wishing for more integrity from Google as a company.
I think this is Google starting to act like a big company. I think this Guardian article by Jonathan Fenby really provides rich perspective on what is really going on. Google is getting involved with geopolitical matters and playing in a new, rougher game than before.
China’s ruling party is not going to appreciate losing face. This is very important and will play a part in Google’s future in China. The user base for Google in China is 300 million and they only have 30% market share (300 million by chance the same number as the entire US population)
For a more comprehensive analysis and story, read this blog post. The P.S. sections are also very valuable.
Update: The Economist says on its online front page that the decision has a commercial tail.