China Search Engine Market: Baidu vs. Google

Filed under: Country Profiles,international search engines — Lee @ 1:10 pm

Google may be the most-used search engine throughout most of the world, but in China, things shake out very differently. The Chinese search engine market has been growing rapidly over the past several years, and China’s own Baidu is leading the way.

According to a recent post from China Internet Watch, 2011 Q3 estimates show web search queries in China have increased by over 6% from 2011 Q2, and are up over 16% from 2010 Q3. Total searches for the quarter reached just over 77.5 billion. Revenue from the search engine market topped 5.51 billion yuan.

Baidu continues to be far and away the most used search engine in China, with a whopping 77.7% market share. Google is a distant second, and continues to decline in popularity, dropping 1% from 2011 Q2 to an 18.3% market share.

On the mobile search front, Baidu is looking to steal more of Google’s thunder. The 40-plus percent market share that Google’s Android platform for mobile devices currently holds in China partially makes up for the company’s shortcomings in search engine usage there. But, as reported in a recent Forbes article, Baidu is preparing to launch its own mobile OS, called Yi.

Yi-equipped smartphones are set to be competitively priced against other popular models, and its Chinese-language-specific search results may give Yi the boost it needs to edge out Android. Plus, Yi reportedly uses an interface that is nearly identical to Android’s, making a switch between the two an easy transition for users.

Following Google’s withdrawal from China in mid-2010 (which saw the company essentially replace Google.cn with Google.com.hk), its continuing decrease in popularity, and the arrival of Yi, is it possible that Google will admit defeat and move even farther out of the Chinese search engine market?

Given the market’s potential for further growth, and the billions and billions more yuan to be made, this seems unlikely. But, Yi the Android Killer could prove to be strike three for the search giant in China.

What do you think? Will Google bow out from China’s search engine market battle, or do they have something else in the works to get them back in the thick of it? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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