Will Haosou overthrow Baidu as the leading Chinese search engine?
In China, the word associated with search engine has been Baidu for years. This may soon no longer be true. PR busts, association with the Chinese government, censorship of the results, and excessive ads are a number of issues the Chinese giant suffers from. Baidu is still leader; yet, another competitor is gaining ground by designing outside the box strategies to quicken the pace: 360 and its new Haosou. Let’s take a closer look at what has happened recently.
360so becomes Haosou
360 has been mostly known in China for its antivirus software, not its search engine so.com. The latter was very successfully launched in 2010. It managed to garner 30% market shares within 4 years, a very decent result given the monopoly Baidu has had in the past. Simplicity of use for webmasters to submit their sitemap was definitely a dealmaker on their side.
Finally, the 360 group has decided to launch it standalone search engine platform called Haosou. Meaning Good search in Chinese, this new arrival wants to make a loud bang with a simple message: A good search engine providing high quality results for its users.
Does 360 really copy baidu’s platforms?
However Haosou, wants to reach further than simple search and has included numerous features you can find on Baidu as well:
- Video search
- Chinese Wikipedia, aka Baike
This renaming gives the users a chance to become more visible, even when they are small or medium websites. Webmaster tools will all be official and should be great for those running a legal and authentic business. Meanwhile, SEO trickster will have a harder time getting through. This feature is great since it is on this aspect that Baidu suffered a huge PR hit after the discovery of companies selling fake medicine on top of its results. In addition, health and pharmaceutical ads space will be down sized.
With its new systems, 360 will have the ability to make partnerships with competitors in the market. This way they may have a big chance at taking more shares away from the monopoly of Baidu.
Haosou is definitely instrumental for gaining market share from Baidu
The 360 search engine has been continuously gaining ground on the search engine market. As you can see below, it has ravished over 25% market share as of August 2014. Actually, Haosou is closer to 30% market share while Baidu keeps losing ground.
At the beginning of 2013, the search engine was at about 20% market share and reached about 25% by Q4. Given how famous Baidu is, this increase in market share is quite a feat.
Beware Baidu, Haosou may well be able to come and get you. The good reputation of simplicity of use and good results must account greatly to that. This trend has carried on since the launch of the first version of the search engine back in 2012. Haosou is definitely going up: according to alexa ranking, Haosou is ranked 51 most viewed website in China (at the time of writing this article).
What is next for Haosou?
The Search engine market in China is the field for an intense competition and several potential partnerships to take over the much coveted position of first Search Engine in China. Haosou has been the latest development in a series of innovation from the 360.com group. However, let’s not forget Baidu here. The search engine did not become a leader by sheer accident.
Now, let’s wonder for a while: How will this newly designed player change the Chinese market? How will it affect the other search engines? Will they play along or try to compete against yet another search engine? All of the search engines have their strength in their own right that makes them very popular. 360 started as an antivirus, Sogou as the incredibly famous Sogou Pinyin. The search engines have to combine their strength in order to benefit from outside of the market capabilities to strengthen their hold on the market. Still, for now, the one that looks the most ready to take over is definitely Haosou, which has been steadily gnawing away at Baidu’s territory.
About the Author:
Olivier Verot is the founder of Gentlemen Marketing Agency, which is an agency based in Shanghai that focuses on Chinese travelers and tourism. Fluent in Mandarin and exploring the various Chinese digital Strategies, he helps tourism companies to develop their China strategy. Thanks to his analyzes of Chinese consumers’ behavior, he has been recognized as an expert on the subject of marketing in China and tourism.