As we all know, China’s most popular search engine isn’t Google, it’s Baidu. Baidu was created in 2000 and at the beginning of 2010 it has about two-thirds of the Chinese market. It claims to be the most advanced Chinese-language search engine.
Let’s look at some of the factors that contributed to Google’s failure in China (apart from well-known legal struggle over censorship issues)
* Chinese Media propaganda
Chinese government emphasized the fact that Google represents the Western Culture and played it strongly against it. The main Chinese tabloid (www.huanqiu.com ) editorial cited online surveys showing 80% of respondents who said they could not care less if Google withdrew from China, the world’s largest Internet market with an estimated 420 million users. There was even Baidu’s media advertising campaign, positions them as a suave Chinese native vs. the clueless foreigner (Google). The message was clear, East is the Best!
* Downloading free MP3 files
This is one of the most popular online activities in China and Baidu became the primary vehicle to locate and download free MP3 files, which generates huge amount of traffic. Choosing Baidu for average Chinese person was obvious.
Baidu vs Google- How does it reflect in statistics?
In 2009 when Google was still strongly present in Chinese’s online world, it had 20% of the search market (then rose to 31%), whilst Baidu covered almost all the rest-62%, the remaining 18% belonged to China Search Engines Directory-SearchEngineColossus.com, China Profile by the BBC- The Asian Search Engine in English and China Factbook- China information from the CIA World Factbook. However, in July 2010, Analysys International said that Baidu’s share of China’s online searches rose to 70% last quarter from 64% the previous quarter, while Google’s share fell to 24%.
So what those numbers mean? Having 70% of all online users in China means 294mln of users! Whilst in US the number of all internet users is estimated slightly under 240mln (July 2010)! All that shows that it is not only Baidu’s winning battle over Google. This battle is quickly becoming more a global one. Forget China, Baidu is now the third largest search site in the world and it’s nipping at Yahoo’s heels to become number two.
Internet Users in China
Internet Users in China 2000- 2010 Graph
(data collected from InternetWorldStats.com)
Baidu vs Google- impact on the financial market
According to Investor’s Business Daily (finance.yahoo.com/news/Baidu-Profit-Sales-Beat-ibd-3623632519.html?x=0&.v=1), in July 2010 Baidu shares were up more than 3% after hours following the results. Baidu is up 78% since Jan. 1, while Google shares are down 23%. For its second quarter, Baidu reported earnings of 35 cents a share, up from 16 cents a year ago, accounting for a 10-for-1 stock split May 12. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected 31 cents.
Will Baidu become a threat for Google on international scale? Well, I say it’s very likely causing Google some sleepless nights.