China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) said yesterday that, according to a survey it ran between August 6 and 16, the search engine market shares of Google, Sina, Sohu and Yahoo are falling in favor of Baidu in three major cities.
"Google is losing to Baidu.com though the number of Chinese Google users remains largely unchanged," said Lu Weigang, an analyst who headed the CNNIC survey.
Lu said inadequate localization had resulted in low brand awareness for Google that put it at a disadvantageous position, and about half of respondents misspelled "Google."
CNNIC said Baidu.com has increased its market share by at least 10 percent in the past six months in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, which account for the majority of China's internet using population.
The survey was conducted over the telephone with random samples of 1,000 internet users in each of the three cities.
Six months ago, Google was the most frequently used search engine in Shanghai, but CNNIC's survey found Baidu had a 43.9 percent market share compared to 38.2 percent for Google.
In Guangzhou, Google had a 28.7 percent market share while Baidu held 48 percent. In Beijing, Baidu increased its share by 10.8 percentage points to 51.5 percent while Google's share grew 1.9 to 32.9 percent.
The survey found that Chinese portals Sina Corp and Sohu.com, also listed on NASDAQ, and US giant Yahoo are all losing their shares of China's fast-growing search engine market.
The Chinese firm 3721.com, bought by Yahoo, also shed its market share by 1.8 percentage points in the past six months.
Last year, the size of China's search engine market was valued at 700 million yuan (US$86.4 million) compared to 100 million yuan (US$12.3 million) in 2002, according to Beijing-based research house Analysys International, and it could reach 3 billion yuan (US$370 million) by 2007.
The survey found that 34 percent of respondents used only one search engine and 41 percent use no more than two, implying that those who don't establish strong brands could be pushed out of the market.
(China Daily August 30, 2005)