Qihoo tumbles; share gains against Baidu may be smaller than believed

|By:, SA News Editor

China's iResearch estimates Qihoo (QIHU -6.5%) has only a 14.4% Chinese search share (translation). That's well below the 22.4% estimated by frequently-referenced CNZZ, as well as Qihoo's own numbers; the company stated on its Q3 CC (transcript) it believes its Chinese search share is "comfortable above 20%."

An iResearch analyst suggests CNZZ's reliance on traffic data from small/medium-sized sites provides it with an incomplete picture of Chinese search trends. iResearch claims to analyze data from 3K+ sites (including large ones) and 1K+ apps.

If iResearch's figure is reasonably accurate, it would be a positive for Baidu (BIDU -0.2%). Most of the share gains Qihoo has seen since launching its search engine in the summer of 2012 have come at Baidu's expense. CNZZ estimates Baidu had a 63.1% search share in December (-860 bps Y/Y).

Qihoo is giving back a majority of the gains it saw yesterday following an Alibaba investment rumor. The company has said it's aiming to have a 30% search share by the end of 2014.