China's Baidu, Microsoft to cooperate in search

Updated: 2011-07-05 13:40
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BEIJING - Chinese search giant Baidu Inc. will use Microsoft's Bing for some English-language results as the software giant tries to expand its small share of China's search market.

China's Baidu, Microsoft to cooperate in search

A photo illustration shows the websites of search engines Baidu and Bing on computer screens in Shanghai July 5, 2011. China's top search engine Baidu said on Monday that it had signed a deal with Microsoft's Bing search engine to offer English-language search to Baidu users. [Photo/Agencies]

China has the world's biggest population of Internet users, with more than 450 million people online. Global e-commerce, search and other Internet brands have struggled to gain a foothold against aggressive local competitors in a heavily regulated market.

No financial details of the tie-up between Microsoft Corp. and Baidu were released. The Chinese company has been looking at possible expansion abroad.

Baidu rival Google Inc. closed its China search engine last year. Users are now redirected to a Hong Hong-based site and Google's share of China's search market has steadily declined.

Baidu has 75.8 percent of China's search market while Google has 19.2 percent, according to Analysys International, a Beijing research firm. Bing's China market share is so small that Analysys counts it among "others" that have a total of 2.2 percent.

In a statement, Baidu vice president Samuel Shen said the agreement with Bing will improve English search for Baidu users and raise Bing's profile in China. Baidu says its site already handles about 10 million English searches daily.

Baidu operates a search site in Japan but makes nearly all its revenue in China. Its profit for the first quarter of 2011 more than doubled from a year earlier to 1.07 billion yuan ($163.5 million).

Last month, the company announced it was investing $306 million in Qunar, a Chinese travel search engine, to become the company's majority shareholder.