Baidu Expanding Overseas

Baidu, China’s search engine giant, is planning on further expansion beyond its domestic market, and is already ready to make more international investments in the near future, Baidu’s CEO, Robin Li, 

said. As we know, Baidu has already expanded to Japan by launching its own search engine there.

“Going forward, I think we should make this kind of move as early as possible,” said Li. “During the next five to 15 years we should see some meaningful revenue outside of China.

The market is moving very quickly, and there is this kind of window of opportunity that we need to grab.” Although, he did not specify in which countries or types of services it would invest, he told PC World that Baidu had invented a “revolutionary” product. Li didn’t bother to elaborate on whether it was a new browser or a mobile OS.

Baidu currently controls 70% of the China’s search market, while its rival Google – only 24%. But even as the company continues to grow, Baidu always faces competition from other domestic companies, seeking their share in the search market: “We are also facing competition from some of the larger domestic Internet companies. Everybody knows that search is very profitable, and they want to get into this space. There is never a lack of competition in this market, you just need to become better and better and continue to innovate in order to even survive here,” Li said. The domestic competitors include Sohu Inc, Alibaba Group’s e-commerce firm Taobao and China’s largest Internet firm by market value, Tencent Holdings.

Since Google shut down its local search site, not wanting to comply with Beijing censorship rules, shares in Baidu, which has cornered more than 60 % of China’s 7 billion-yuan ($1 billion) search market, soared this year. However, Baidu’s executives believe that a local Chinese firm such as Baidu is at a potential disadvantage, having to abide by Chinese laws. “Our cost is higher; we have to block certain types of content that our competitors don’t need to. That doesn’t give us a better user experience,” said Li, during the rare half-hour press conference at which the charismatic chief executive answered several questions on censorship. Li said Baidu had to pay engineers and editors to screen content to make sure that its searches complied with local law. The Chinese government requires search engines with a presence on the mainland to self-censor politically-sensitive keywords such as ‘exiled Tibetan spiritual leader’, ‘the Dalai Lama’.

Well, the Chinese government has always been very strict on its censorship policy, and if Baidu is really set on improving the user experience it will certainly face a long road of struggle and controversy before the Chinese authorities come to abolish its strict search engine censorship.

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