Google Inc. launched a local-search service in China on Sept. 4, marking the Web search giant's latest move to expand its presence in the vast country's fast-growing online marketplace.
Google Local, which has up to now been available only in the United States, Britain, Canada and Japan, allows Web users to use keyword searches to find businesses in particular cities and see their locations plotted on a map. Many Internet companies are pursuing local initiatives in efforts to tap into huge offline yellow-page advertising markets.
The new service, Google Bendi, provides local information for more than 100 Chinese cities, according to a Google spokesman. Maps are available for searches related to more than 70 of those cities through a partnership with Mapabc.com Ltd., a Beijing-based Web-based mapping service.
The site appears to be an effort by Google to stretch its lead in searches for shopping and business information.
An August survey of Internet users in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou by China Internet Network Information Center ranked Google as the second-largest search engine overall after Baidu.com Inc. But the nonprofit group's survey showed that Google is the preferred tool for finding Web pages and shopping, business and other information.
(Shenzhen Daily September 8, 2005)