The war of Chinese search engines

 

There exist in China several search engines, and Baidu is now the leader with around 60% market shares. But things will maybe slowly change. In fact fist Qihoo 360, the 2nd search engine in China is sees his market share growing very fast. Secondly, Tencent, the owner of Soso, the 4th search engine, said it would do the partnership with Sogou, the 3rd one.

Tencent is the first web company in China, with a turnover of almost 7 billion dollars in 2012, and 3,7 million dollars cach. Tencent is also the owner of QQ and Wechat, knowing wechat has 200 million users in China and 400 million users in the world, and QQ mobile just reached 500 users this year.

So tencent said the company would merge Soso and QQ with Sogou, and invest 448 million dollars to take a stake of 36, 5% in Sogou, and soon reach 40% stake. The two companies want to cooperate in several fields, such as technology, products, traffic and data.

sogou

So things will maybe change slowly, but they have already started to change actually. Here are two graphics showing the market shares of search engines, and the evolution between July and august 2013.

china-search-engine-market-share-in-august-2013

china-search-engine-market-share-comparison-in-july-and-august-2013

 

We can observe that Baidu is still the leader, but its market share is decreasing, while 360 and Sogou see their market shares growing. Moreover 360 had not long ago only 15% market share. So it means even if Baidu is the biggest, the company has to be careful with these competitors.

Baidu is the leading search engine in China, but it is also the 5th website in the world, according to Alexa  2012. Baidu also had a 3,58 billion dollars in 2012. (Source : Baidu)

Baidu is very powerful and has its own websites, such as Baidu Zhidao (a Q&A website), Baidu Baike (like Wikipedia), Baidu Tieba. When you do a research on Baidu, you always find the Baidu websites in the first page with the PPC results and the ads. A CIC study showed that 23% of Baidu traffic went to its own websites. If you want to know how to do SEO on Baidu read this article.

baidu

Qihoo has the 3rd search engine in China, 360, but the company was first very famous for its antivirus.  It also owns the 360 mobile assistant, a mobile applications store. The company’s turnover is growing very fast with a 96% increase between 2011 and 2012. Its turnover was 329 million dollars in 2012.

360

Sogou was launched in 2004 and is owned by Sohu Incorporation.

sogou2

 

If Tencent merges Soso and QQ with Sogou, the company could see a fast evolution in its market share, and could become also a serious competitor for Baidu. So the war between Baidu and Tencent is not over.

 

Moreover, Baidu has announced that the company would soon buy Nuomi, wich is an e-business website, very active on mobile. In fact Baidu wants to create its own smatphone applications, in order to compete with Tencent in this field, Tencent owning Wechat and QQ.

The fight of the search engines is then a part of the war of the big web companies.

 

Olivier

Marketing to China