Here are key points about Baidu.com, Zhongsou.com, Yahoo China (ticker: YHOO), and Google (ticker: GOOG):
- Baidu.com released its desktop search software, aiming to expand its search services from web search to hard disk search.
- Zhongsou.com, another major player in the market, also released its desktop search software called NetPig 3.0.
- Chinese Internet portal Sohu.com (ticker: SOHU) also upgraded its search engine website Sougou.com on February 25, and vowed to become the leading search engine service provider in the country.
- According to iResearch, the Chinese search engine market grew to $145 million in 2004, enjoying a 74% year-on-year growth rate.
- Baidu, Google, and Yahoo! China were the top three most popular search engines in 2004 with almost 85% of the market.
Market research firm iResearch believes that:
- Technical barriers to the search business are already quite high and the positions of the major players are quite established. Therefore, small and medium players face mounting difficulties.
- New technologies, such as desktop search softare by Zhongsou and My Search software by 8848.com will bring some uncertainties to the competition in the market. But it will be very difficult for a new player to emerge - even with a new technology.
Quick thought: A report today claims that Yahoo China will introduce a new search engine product in April. No doubt more developments are on the way.