Recent data measuring search query volumes in China and the Untied States indicates that Baidu has now passed Google to become the most popular country specific search engine on the planet.
Comscore data for the United States shows Google conducting 7.398 billion searches in August 08. A separate Comscore report shows Baidu conducting 7.406 billion searches in July 08 in the Asia Pacific region. Granted, this large region includes 10 different countries including Japan, where Baidu launched its first and only non-Chinese focused search engine earlier this year and likely conducts approximately 30 million searches a month.
If you back these searches out of Baidu’s search volume provided by Comscore you will see that these two search heavyweights are almost equal in their respected home countries. The one major caveat to the Asia Pacific study is how Comscore does not include search queries from Internet cafes. Internet cafes are incredibly popular in China and Baidu is easily the most popular search engine within these 120,000+ Internet addict hot zones. Comscore’s inability to measure Internet cafe search traffic leaves Baidu’s search volumes significantly underrepresented.
Furthermore, Baidu themselves recently advertised in their new beta ecommerce signup area that they now receive a massive 196 million daily web users and 400 million daily web searches, pegging their monthly total at closer to 12 billion search queries. All in all, it is clear that Baidu China has now passed Google USA as the most popular country specific search engine. Baidu may have also surpassed Yahoo to become the 2nd most popular search service on the planet based on total global search query volumes and if they haven’t already they may accomplish this feat soon. Baidu’s global market share continues to grow at a blistering pace and Yahoo’s continues to shrink. Perhaps Microsoft should consider purchasing Baidu instead of Yahoo if they really want to acquire a fast growing search leader?
Baidu’s growth is not limited to just search. Their Baidu Union ad network now claims more than 1 billion daily ad impressions or around 30 billion a month. This 14 month old product has grown exponentially since its start last summer and has become an important part of Baidu’s revenue growth. Just imagine how big this ad network could be in a few years.
Baidu will also be entering into the ecommerce and online payment business in China soon by leveraging their massive user base and search traffic. Over 40% of ecommerce purchases start with a search engine query and Baidu is looking to capitalize on this tremendous advantage. More than 40,000 businesses have already signed up for the beta test of their new ecommerce platform. When Google emerged as a power in the United States the eBay’s and Amazon’s of the world were already entrenched leaders, which prevented Google Shopping and Google Base from really becoming mainstream shopping services. China is at a much earlier stage in their development of ecommerce and Baidu is well positioned to dominate this search based business as well. Last week news broke of the name of their new online payment service called Baifubao, ending speculation about whether they would decide to partner with another PayPal like service in China or just start their own. They already have over 180,000 search marketing clients, which this new payment service will obviously be rolled out to, along with the tens of thousands of businesses signing up for their ecommerce platform. Not a bad start.
The growth of the Internet in China has been staggering over the past year and Baidu has been the major beneficiary. According to the China Internet Network Information Center, China has added some 91 million web users over the past year reaching a total 253 million by the end of June 08. Based on recent growth trends you can expect China to now have over 270 million web users as of today. This is far more than the 230 million total web users in the United States. Furthermore, over 12 million domains have now been registered in China making the .cn domain the most popular domain suffix in the world. China is clearly an emerging Internet superpower and Baidu is the leader in the world’s most populous country.
Disclosure: The author is both a Baidu and Google shareholder.