Two years after entering the Chinese search market, Google is readying to take another crack at the country’s top search engine – Baidu.com. Baidu has remained China’s most dominant search engine thanks in a large part to offering free, unlicensed music downloads.
It’s a controversial and risky tactic that might land Baidu in hot water one day, but it’s clearly keeping users coming back for more. Recognizing the demand for this service, Google also wants to get into the game, but legally. According to the Wall Street Journal, Google is in the final planning stages of a joint venture with an online Chinese music company that would allow them to provide free, licensed music downloads in China.
Barring any last minute complications. the service is expected to start in the next several weeks, and is likely to “offer access to tunes from three global music companies as well as dozens of smaller players.”
China remains a lucrative search market to break into, and if Google can make a significant dent into Baidu’s stranglehold over the industry it’ll mean good things for their finances. Afterall, this year China is expected to surpass the United States in terms of its total online users. That’s a huge market to capitalize on, and Google is confident that they’ll soon be the number one search engine in China.
Last April, during a visit to Beijing, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, “We were late entering the China market, and we’re catching up. Our investment is working and we will eventually be the leader.”
One thing’s for sure though – Baidu isn’t going down without a fight. It’s a lot tougher to beat an enemy on their home turf. But, then again, Google has a lot of money and a growing staff of their own in China.