This last week in class has seen me discussing with the students why Baidu is #1 and Google a distant second in China’s search engine market, and I’m sure as shit no expert on such matters, but the consensus from class discussions is that Baidu offers services matching what Chinese web surfers want that Google is only just starting to learn about.

[aside: inevitably, 百度知道 is the first example of something Baidu does, to which my natural response is “百度什么都不知道”]

And then I come across this post at WSJ’s China Journal about Baidu’s new ‘Elderly Search’- and no, it’s not a service allowing you to track errant Alzheimers patients in your family- and I’m thinking, that’s precisely the point. I mean, how hard is this to figure out? Quoting from WSJ’s post:

It features larger fonts and a menu of search selections tailored for a more mature audience, from revolutionary song downloads to online forums on Tai Chi and keeping pet birds, popular pastimes among China’s retirees. The design emphasizes clicking instead of typing in order to help older users who might not find it easy to type Romanized Chinese (or pinyin) to produce characters for their searches.

Looks, smells, tastes, and feels a hell of a lot like common sense to me.

3 Responses to “thots on China’s web business world”

  1. Matt Schiavenza Says:

    This all may be true, but for doing research in Chinese Baidu is still far inferior to Google. On any given search term(s) on Baidu, the first two pages are typically just advertisements, while with Google you can obtain something resembling objective information instantly.

  2. Hang Says:

    The baidu case is a epitome of the China web business vs Foreign web business. Just have a look at how ebay,yahoo,and amozone etc. fail to compete with their Chinese competitors.

    Eachnet was the No. 1 acution website in China with 70% market share. Since Eachnet was acquired by, Earchnet was quickly overtaken by, a Chinese competitor. was the No. 1 online book retailer in China. Since Amazon acquired Joyo, Joyo was overtaken by its Chinese competitor,

    Yahoo don’t stand a Chance to win the competition at all.

    Knowing the consumers is the key to success. Baidu has done well.

  3. wangbo Says:

    Matt, I certainly wasn’t accusing Baidu of actually being better than Google, let alone of being ethical. I’m just saying they’re playing the market much better than their competitors.

    Hang, exactly.