RECENTLY, CHINESE BLOGGER KESO published an interesting series of articles discussing Baidu.com (百度) and four of its competitors: Google China, Sina, Tencent QQ, & Alibaba. This has made me very curious: What’s so great about Baidu?
According to a New York Times report in September 2006 (quoting Bloomberg stats), Baidu is the leading Chinese language site, with a market share of around 57 percent for search engines and around 50 percent for advertising revenue. Google, the closest second, only has around 33 percent market share for search engines and 16 percent for advertising revenue. Baidu is reportedly very strong in Chinese MP3 music content and the first to offer WAP and PDA-based mobile search in China.
Going by Alexa’s Traffic Rankings, Baidu is within the Top 10 worldwide and Number 1 in China. The other top 9 sites in China are (details extracted and summarized from Wikipedia):
- Tencent QQ 腾讯网: The most popular free instant messaging software in Asia, and the world’s third most popular IM service. Over 160 million QQ users in China alone. Offers many subfeatures including games, pets, ringtone downloads, etc.
- Sina.com.cn 新浪新闻中心: The largest Chinese-language infotainment web portal, with over 30 channels covering various aspects, including news, sports, technology, finance, advertising, entertainment, fashion, travel and more.
- Sohu.com 搜狐: Offers advertising, a search engine, and other services.
- NetEase 163.com 网易新闻: Search engine technology and massively multiplayer online gaming.
- Taobao.com 淘宝网: A consumer-to-consumer trade site for Chinese customers. The main competitor to eBay in China for online auctions. Currently captures over 65% of the e-auction market. Part of the Alibaba 阿里巴巴 e-commerce conglomerate.
- Yahoo! China 雅虎中国: News, information, email, and a search engine
- Google China 谷歌中国: Enables users to search the Web, Usenet, and images. Features include PageRank, caching and translation of results, and an option to find similar pages.
- TOM Online: A mobile Internet company, offering a variety of online and mobile services, including wireless internet and online advertising.
- Microsoft Network (MSN): Dialup access and content provider.
WITH THIS BACKGROUND INFO, plus more details from Google Finance (added via links on the company names after this point), Keso’s articles on Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU) now make much more sense:
In Baidu & Google China 《谷歌篇》, Keso considers Google China as Baidu’s strongest competitor. Both have very similar business models. Their main source of income is advertisements. However, Google is restrained by its headquarters while Baidu is constrained by the sentiments of its stock investors. In addition [taken from "Baidu & Alibaba"], Google, with its ever-expanding portfolio of productivity tools (such as Gmail, Calendar, Docs, Analytics, Webmaster Central, Apps for Your Domain), has been positioning itself as an economical search engine. Baidu, with its strong entertainment orientation, risk lowering its brand image, might raise costs for its advertisers and thereby lowering its value as a commercial “spine”.
In Baidu & Sina 《新浪篇》, Keso explains that Sina, with its recent launch of a music library, looks ready to compete with Baidu in the MP3 Search market. Sina, however, has quite fragile media relations. The whole situation is also likely to change with Baidu’s newly acquired news publisher license.
In Baidu & Tencent QQ 《腾讯篇》, Keso explains that Baidu and QQ (Tencent Holding) are very likely to top the charts if there’s ever a popularity contest among Internet youths in China. Interestingly, the nett value of QQ is larger than Baidu by 1.8 times. Baidu, with its huge in successes MP3 Search and Baidu Post Bar, has been expanding aggressively into social networking — moving closer and closer to QQ’s business model. The two companies look set to have a battle soon.
In Baidu & Alibaba 《阿里巴巴篇》, Keso explains that Alibaba, with its strong B2B business model, basically links suppliers to buyers. Thus it was originally not a competitor of Baidu. However, in August 2005, Alibaba acquired Yahoo! China. And once its estimated value of over 4 billions USD (超过40亿美元) was announced around the same period, people started comparing Alibaba with Baidu. In addition, more and more people are using search engines to find business partners. With increasing breadth and depth of search engine applications, the entire Internet has now been transformed into a gigantic trading platform!
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