China Search

Last Weeks in China – Netease Launched Yodao, Guge Sues Guge, some stats and rumors

Some newsworthy tidbits that happened in the last weeks. Let’s start with something legal.

Guge sues Guge

Google carries the name Guge in China. There’s also the Beijing Guge Science and Technology Ltd. company. It seems, but not all is clear here yet, that said Beijing company started operating under the name Guge just one week after Google announced their Chinese name.

Now they want to sue Google Guge and force it to change its name. The reasons for suing Google are that they think the name is too similar and that it has harmed its operations.

From Reuters:

A spokesman for Beijing Guge Science and Technology Ltd. Co. said Google’s commercial name had led to the company being constantly disturbed by people calling up its office trying to contact the search engine.

“We just want Google to change their commercial name,” Tian Yunshan, a company official, told Reuters on Friday. “We have already passed our demands on to Google … We will see what happens in court.”

A Beijing court has accepted the case and it will be an exciting summer for the Beijing company. Will Google pay them off or not!

Netease Launches Yodao

The new search engine of Netease, one of China’s top online gaming and portal websites, has been launched. The search engine is called Yodao and replaces the Google search engine.

Yodao offers web, image and blog search and a dictionary. The Netease 163.com website is one of the top trafficked websites (according to their website daily page views at the end of last year exceeded 710 million). Whether they will make a dent in the current search engine market will have to be seen.

Baidu and Free Streaming Music

One of the reasons Baidu is so popular is that they are pretty good in serving results with downloadable mp3′s and other copyrighted content. There have been several law suits but until now Baidu has been cleared although that verdict has been appealed. Baidu has announced they will start working together with the big Chinese language record label Rock Music. The cooperation consists of offering part of the label’s repertoire for free streaming on Baidu. The money model will be the display of advertisements while the user listens. Advertising revenue will be shared.

All music in China is pirated, whether it’s digital or in cd format. For a Chinese label this may be an opportunity to recoup lost income. It also shows that Baidu is trying to smartly leverage it’s mp3 popularity by branching out and creating more ad platforms.

If this gets popular with the users the question will be what foreign labels will do. Join Baidu or not.

Baidu’s Japanese Search

When Baidu launched their Japanese version most traffic came from China as the results were uncensored. The censor got word of this and blocked Baidu.jp. The news is now that the majority of the visitors are from Japan. Not a surprise I guess. The image searches are said to be the most popular but on the whole it’s not making a big impact yet. Based on traffic it ranks number 517 in Japan.

(Ad)spending is on the up

Beijing-based Data Center of China Internet (DCCI (Chinese))released the results of a survey about user online spending and the online advertising market.

Chinese netizens spent 186 Rmb/month in the last half year compared to 170 Rmb at the end of last year. (Spending includes services like Internet connection – a big part of the cost, online shopping and online games). It’s going up but slowly it seems. Their prediction is that it will reach 196 Rmb/month at the end of 2007.

The report also comes with new data about ad spending. In the first half of 2007 3.27 billion was spent on web advertising (excluding search engine advertising). That amount is similar to the total spent in 2005.

Search engine advertising in the first half of 2007 came at 1.15 billion Renminbi. Revenues for the whole of 2006 were around 1.57 billion Rmb. A big surge here as well.

It’s good to see spending is increasing rapidly. The market gets slowly more mature.

Chinese Censorship

The city Xiamen (the same city where the SES China was held) has announced they want all internet users to use their real names when posting messages on local websites in a drive to stop anonymous posting. The probable background story here is that there were protests in Xiamen recently against the building of a chemical plant and the internet played a big role in the way citizens were informed.

There has been talk about a nation-wide real name registration system in China for a long time but that was shelved some time ago. The new regulations apply to Xiamen hosted websites it seems which, if implemented will bring a lot of hassle to the companies behind these websites to manage this. For a city that tries to label itself as an IT hotbed I wonder if this won’t harm their own business. If implemented I wouldn’t be surprised if companies will move to a host somewhere else and the posters will start posting on forums outside of Xiamen.

Myspace.cn and Microsoft Live Spaces Rumor

A rumor is floating (which was denied later) that there is a cooperation in the making between Myspace.cn and Microsoft Live pages. Myspace.cn is said not to have impacted the social website sphere yet as much as they had planned. The CEO of Myspace.cn (and former CEO of Live Spaces) has denied the rumor but one of China’s top tech bloggers is not convinced about the denial.

CWR writes about the rumored news:

What we can expect from this merger? At least, the merger shows that Myspace China is almost entirely autonomous from Myspace to make its own strategy, which is a good start to compete in Chinese market.

That would go also then for the operation of Live Spaces in China. It’s a rumor but it will be interesting to see whether this will happen or not.

One more rumor, one about a social networking site and Yahoo

From Pacific Epoch:

Chinese social networking site (SNS) Mosh.cn is currently in talks with Yahoo about being acquired, reports Donews quoting Mosh.cn founder Zhang Rui. Mosh.cn allows users to organize off line parties, meetings and trips through the website.

That’s it for now. I’m out for a beer in smoggy Shanghai.

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