SEW Forums member InChina reports in this thread:
Google bought google.com.cn and google.cn for million dollars. which should be the record of domain business in China.I can tell it's all over the Chinese media from a Google News search over there, but unfortunately I have yet to learn the language.
To launch a more localized business model will be more important than to buy a .cn domain.
Most of the well-educated Chinese users know the google.com domain well. To attract new users, a domain in Chinese pingyin will be more acceptable for them. Yahoo launched a yisou.com for its Chinese search engine, which means the first search or "the one" search in Chinese. Sohu.com launched a sogou.com for its search engine, which means search dog in Chinese.
More promotions for google.com branding, a localized business mode, and a sub-branding domain as a plus, probably will help those guys in Google Shanghai office.