When it comes to Google, search ubiquity is usually the first thing that comes to mind. In China however, the fight for searches is still very much anyone’s game- with Google struggling to make headway.
I wrote a while back on the subject that Baidu is very much winning the battle for Chinese search supremacy, and what steps Google is taking to narrow the margin- especially in terms of mobile search. Baidu however, landed a huge blow against Google yesterday with its announcement that it has secured yet another mobile partnership with China Unicom, one of the larger Chinese mobile carriers, to pre-install not only its mobile search services, but many other mobile-centric services and solutions on all its upcoming 3G handsets.
Baidu and Google share almost every search performed in China, with Baidu performing 3 out of 4 searches in total. Now that the focus has been turned to mobile search, it’s a race to secure partnerships with any of the three national carriers. Chinese mobile users performed over 270 million Web searches on their phones in the second quarter this year, more than twice as much as in the same period a year earlier, according to local research company Analysys International. Google and Baidu each took about 26 percent of the mobile searches- so there’s still room for improvement for both companies, with nearly 50 percent of the mobile search market still untapped by both players.
When the iPhone hits China on China Unicom, it’s still unclear whether Baidu will be the default search provider, or if Google will remain the pre-installed search provider given China Unicom’s deal with Baidu to provide all of its mobile search capabilities. Which ever way it goes, it will have dealt another major blow to the other provider given the future impact the iPhone will have on the Chinese smartphone market.
While Google maintains overwhelming dominance in the U.S. and in many other parts of the world, it’s nice to see areas where competition is still present for the search giant. China’s mobile market is estimated to be one of the top in the world in the near future, and both Baidu and Google still have a long way to go to oust the other as the reigning search king.