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Search Engines In China: Who Are The Major Players?

Based on 2011 statistics, the “search engine pie” can be divided into 3 main portions, approximately 14% from Bing, 16% by Yahoo and Google taking the largest share. However, it is a different story here in China.  While Google was in China, it managed to conquer about 20 plus percent of the market, which is impressive for a foreign company. Though Google has announced its withdrawal from China, it is not really the end of the story for them, as many have sought after ways to climb over the “great fire wall” of China.

After quick search in forums, many locals here in China prefer Baidu for Chinese searches and Google for searches in foreign languages. On average, China netizens feel that Google searches provide more reliable, faster and more comprehensive results than domestic search engines, especially for non-Chinese related searches.

Interestingly, people here are really innovative and came up with a brilliant idea of combing both search engines, Baigoogledu, that displays results from both Google and Baidu. I am starting to wonder if there is a Yagooglehoo or Goohoo available somewhere on the web.

Statistics from THEM shows that since Google redirects its Chinese users to google.hk, revenue generated from Chinese searches dropped approx. by 10%, while Baidu continues to take the lead, occupying nearly 78% by revenue.

Though Google.cn is officially out, domestic competition may get intense as more search engines are being introduced. For instance, Sogou, which ranks behind Baidu for MP3 searches, gained popularity after introducing free Chinese pinyin character input software that has better predictive features than others in the market. In addition there is also Sohu, which is popular with its video searches, just like Youtube and SOSO, which is a search engine by Tencent which “coincidentally” bears the same rainbow text as Google.

So who wins?

Google definitely has the upper hand, mainly because of its foreign languages and comprehensive searches. Bing by Microsoft is still available within the walls of China, but not that well known yet. Baidu is still ranked as the most popular search engine without any doubt for now.

In my opinion, Google is the only real threat to Baidu’s dominance.  As long as politics interfere with Google’s availability in China, Baidu will stayon top as king of the Chinese search engines.

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