Microsoft looks to grab big part of Chinese search market

The search market is a very lucrative business for those involved. In America, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft's Bing are the clear leaders in the search business.

The Chinese search market is a very different landscape from what the major players in America are used to. In China, the top search engine by far is not a name that most Americans are familiar with. The top search destination for Chinese users is Baidu – Baidu holds 63.9% of the Chinese search market reports Reuters. That leaves Google in second place with 31.3% of the search market.

Reuters reports that the Chinese search market is very lucrative with a value of $293 million in Q3 2009. Microsoft is looking to increase the popularity of its Bing search engine in China and the software giant announced this week that China is its most important strategic market for search.

Microsoft issued a statement saying, "Microsoft is committed to the China market and the search market in China is the most important strategic market for Microsoft. We specially set the search technology center in China to get a deeper understanding of what Chinese users need, to be able to deliver the best product to them."

China is such an important market to search firms because it is home to the world's largest internet population with more than 350 million users. Bing has been available in China as a beta product for a while now, but has not made a significant impact in the market so far. Even Google is currently little threat to Baidu.

Credit Suisse analyst Wallace Cheung said, "Google is taking a big share of (the China market), roughly 30 percent but it is not yet threatening Baidu. Bing is still very far away."

Analyst Jin Naili said that the number of users visiting the Bing site in China has increased by 30% over the three months ending in October and predicts a big change in the Chinese search market in the next one or two years.

In America, Microsoft launched Bing 2.0 early in December. The new Bing 2.0 serach has features that help to increase traffic. One new feature is called entity cards that supplement the traditional crawled results in the browser. Microsoft will also be adding Twitter and Facebook results that are local to the searcher. Part of the big push to get Bing into the hands of more users is mobile apps that work on 25 different devices, including an app for the iPhone.

The search landscape itself in China is much different that the here in America. China is well known for its censorship efforts to block content online that is deemed objectionable. This content includes porn and any content that speaks out against the Chinese government. The search engines have to comply with the Chinese censorship or they can be blocked from being accessed by Chinese users.

"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
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