Baidu is China’s largest search engine with a not-so secret mission to dominate the global market, and while most chuckle at the thought of it surpassing Google, one might be surprised to learn the Mountain View, Calif.-based Internet giant lost 7 percent of its search market share to Baidu last month.
According to the well-regarded statistics firm NetMarketShare, Google dropped 7 percent in Desktop Top Search Engine Share Trend in February while Baidu gained a little over 6 percent. Bing, Yahoo, and other competitors remained stagnant. As seen in the chart below the break, Google and Baidu have paralleled each other in terms of share fluctuations since November 2011.
Beijing-headquartered Baidu offers a range of Web services similar to Google, including maps, news, search ranking, e-commerce, Internet TV, a browser, and a smartphone operating system based on Android OS. The firm is adamant about its business not being a Google-clone, though.
Baidu’s Director of International Communications Kaiser Kuo explained to CNN (in the 2010 video above) that CEO Robin Li actually filed a hyperlink analysis patent before Google’s cofounder Larry Page. The filing indicates Baidu envisioned the future of search long before Google dominated cyber space…
“We’ve never made a secret of the fact that we intend to become a global brand,” contended Kuo while explaining how the company actively develops multi language platforms outside of Chinese and English to encourage expansion.
Baidu amped its take-over plans by launching two websites for Thailand and Egypt users last fall. CEO Li outlined the company’s goals for the next 10 years at a September 2011 meeting with a member of China’s Politburo Standing Committee where he speculated the brand will become a household name in half of the world’s Internet markets.
The search engine’s dream could come to fruition as it recently saw a 77 percent profit growth in Q4 2011, compared to the same period in 2010 with a $326.3 million quarter profit. Meanwhile, revenue rose in Q4 2011 to $710.9 million from 82.5-percent in Q4 2010. Baidu’s 2011 full-year profit was up 88.3-percent over 2010 figures.
The firm’s successful year may link to its newly launched web browser noted to look very similar to the Chrome browser. Despite the upswing, Baidu’s seemingly random surge in search market share may simply amount to an anomaly that originated from Google’s recent tainted image in the media over privacy concerns. The swarm of negative attention might have given Google’s Chinese Internet rival a temporary boost, but of course only time (and more statistical analysis) will tell.