Goso goes for share of China's search market

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Goso.cn, a news search engine launched by the People's Daily newspaper, officially became operational on Monday, indicating that a national media organization is ready to grab a share of China's Baidu-dominated Internet search market.

Goso.cn, which has been available in a beta version since June, has beaten Xinhua News Agency to become the first search engine in China backed by a national media outlet.

Xinhua reached an agreement with China Mobile in August to establish an Internet search service next year.

Deng Yaping, general manager of Goso Network Limited, said Goso.cn is a vertical search engine product that integrates news, news forums, pictures, blogs, videos and micro blogs.

"Users only need to enter key words and they will have a fresh news experience as Goso provides them with all-around information related to the topic," Deng said at a media conference in Beijing marking the launch.

In addition, the search engine can analyze the popularity of certain news topics, which may help media professionals, according to Deng.

She admitted that Baidu Inc is a "formidable" player, especially after Google partially abandoned the mainland market earlier this year.

Since Baidu is so popular and it will be difficult to change people's Web habits, Goso.cn should develop its own unique style to attract users, Deng said.

"The customer base for Goso.cn is still small," she told China Daily.

Plans to expand Goso's service to mobile phone users are on the agenda, but the timetable has yet to be worked out, according to Deng.

Table tennis legend Deng, who earned four Olympic gold medals and 18 world championship titles in her 20-year sports career, took up the post at Goso on Sept 26.

Before that, she served as deputy secretary of the Beijing Municipal Committee of the Communist Youth League of China.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences is poised to provide technological support for Goso.cn. A joint laboratory between Goso and the top Chinese scientific institute was set up on Monday.

Li Zhi, senior analyst with Beijing-based research firm Analysys International, said the chances for Goso.cn to grab a sizeable share of China's Internet search market are remote.

However, Charles Zhang, chairman and chief executive officer of Sohu.com, told China Daily that his search engine subsidiary, Sogou.com, still has hopes of competing with Baidu and grabbing a bigger market share.

"There is insufficient competition in China's search engine market," Zhang said.

Meanwhile, Zhang said that Goso.cn, with the backing of a national media organization, would not be short of resources, and he thinks Deng is a highly capable woman.

According to Analysys International, Baidu had a 73 percent share of China's Internet search market in the third quarter, while Google maintained second place with 21.6 percent. Market scale increased 57 percent year-on-year to 3.15 billion yuan ($472 million) in the third quarter.

William Zhang, chief scientist of Baidu, said that though many competitors have been eager to snatch market share from Baidu for years, they failed to achieve this as his company's growth continued unabated.

"We hired a record number of more than 1,000 employees this year to push forward our innovation and upgrade our services. Baidu will not lag behind in the competition," Zhang said.

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