Even before the highly publicized news about Google’s bold plan to produce uncensored search results in China, its popularity in the mainland has been dwindling. This is according to iResearch, a local Chinese search consultancy firm.
In addition to Google losing search market share in mainland, Yahoo! and Bing also lost a certain portion of their slices in search popularity in China. Google had 18.9 per cent share of Web searches done in China in 2009, compared to 76 per cent enjoyed by Baidu. In terms of percentage points, Google’s share is down 1.8 per cent while Baidu gained 2.8 percentage points, iResearch said.
Google has a higher share of search on bigger cities, but Baidu asserted its dominance over its rivals on less prosperous regions. The widening gap between Baidu and Google’s share is an indication that the number of Internet users from the countryside has been surging. At the end of last year, China has 384 million Internet users.
Yahoo’s China, controlled by Alibaba Group, saw its dwindling share slipping further from 1 per cent to just 0.3 per cent, iResearch said.
Yahoo China, which is controlled by China’s Alibaba Group and is also known as China Yahoo, slipped further in the country last year. Its share of Web searches fell to just 0.3 percent from the previous year’s 1 percent, iResearch said. This means that Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, now leads Yahoo albeit very slightly.
Analysys International forecasts that the value of China’s search engine market in 2010 will reach 10 billion yuan (US$1.46 billion). Will Google be true to its word about possibly pulling the plug in its China operations or soften its stance in favor of business opportunities?
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