Baidu (news, site) has the biggest search market share in China. With Baidu currently working out a strategic search partnership with Microsoft, the company is reportedly challenging Google's search dominance elsewhere.
Baidu and Microsoft are currently content partners in search. Microsoft's Bing search engine delivers English-language search results in Baidu. A recent Bloomberg interview with Baidu senior vice president Haoyu Shen points toward plans for expanding their partnership beyond delivery of English content. Shen says Baidu is developing products in 12 foreign languages, although the company is not giving specifics on which languages these are, or when the company plans to roll out the products.
What's clear at this point is that Baidu is working out a strategic agreement with Microsoft for search-engine operations, according to to local paper Donews.com. Baidu's Shen says the company "won't rule out" the possibility that this collaboration can be expanded into other products or other territories.
Just How Big is Baidu?
Google is undoubtedly the dominant search engine worldwide, with an 82.8% share, compared with Baidu's 4.89%. However, the Chinese company is the top destination for search in its own turf. Baidu enjoys a 75.8% share of the Chinese search market, compared with Google's 19.2%. Bing has only a 1% slice of the pie, although the Microsoft-Baidu partnership is expected to help improve this figure.
A study by the Millward Brown Group estimates Baidu's market valuation at US$ 22.56 billion, and continues to be a profitable venture. Baidu also ranks 29th among the world's top 100 brands, according to MBG's BrandZ.
Is Baidu Up for the Challenge?
While this doesn't necessarily mean Baidu is bound to be a "Google killer," it might make a dent in Google's search dominance, at least in markets where Baidu can make a significant brand presence. Google is not invincible, as evident with how the big G is starting to slip in the US market. For instance, Bing-powered searches in the US -- which include Bing.com and Yahoo.com -- are already growing by 5% per month, with Google searches slipping 3% monthly. If Google sits on its laurels and leaves this trend unchecked, it might see itself lose in its own game.
Still, Baidu itself is mum on whether it does intend to challenge Google internationally. What's clear at this point is that the partnership with Microsoft will be a catalyst to speeding up an international expansion. For Google, Baidu will be something to watch out for.