Robin Li — the chairman and CEO of China's mega–search engine Baidu — says his service is now used by 99 per cent of his country's internet users. That's nearly 420 million people, or about one third of the country's population. "We have very high coverage," Li said this afternoon during an appearance at the Web 2.0 Summit in …
One one hand he says they have 99% of the market and on the other he says, that unlike the west, there is lots of competition as opposed to "just google and bing and no third"
Altavista, ask.com, IXQuick etc. etc.
Google did not want to censor as Baidu
Understanding the Chinese Internet market is simply understanding how to deal with Chinese communist censorship. This means, among other things, to self-censor yourself before the government gets to you and to reveal all information about users whenever the government wants it. China does not have an Internet but a national Intranet. Every company that tried to get real Web 2.0 (which mainly means a high value of anonymity for the user, who can post what he/she wants). It is no wonder that platforms from Youtube to Facebook are blocked in China: they allow the free exchange of opinion without government control!
Never been to China then...?
A statement like China having a national intranet is just plain silly. Apart from Facebook and Youtube being periodically blocked for various reasons, the majority of the time, internet censorship in China is barely noticeable.
Of course that's not to say there's no censorship in China, it's just not as bad as most people make it out to be.
Doing business in China is very personal, all about getting to the right people. Only recently have Westerners started understanding how to be polite, respectful and friendly all at the same time.
You've clearly never been to China then either
Chinese censorship is noticeable and rife from any point of entry.
The statement of a Chinese intranet is necessarily not accurate but a good catch-all approximation.
Image search through flickr, google and others is regularly interrupted, amongst others. Any links that haven't passed the censors or they've forgot to take off black lists are blocked, youtube and facebook aren't periodically blocked, they are permanently blocked, as are twitter, foursquare, tumblr and a whole host of other web 2.0 outfits.
Links with RSS, blog or other keywords that the firewall censors are also blocked. With the added side effect that your net connection is dropped for a couple of minutes.
And I personally believe it's not a censorship thing, but an economic activity to boost the markets of companies like Baidu
There's more than you think...
"Here, you have Google and you have Bing. What is the number three?"
Yahoo, Dogpile, AltaVista, DuckDuckGo, Ask, Blackle?
But no, you're right Mr Li, we only have 2 search options here
To be honest...
Yahoo is now a Yahoo-skinned Bing, and from the other options, only Altavista is worth mentioning. Oh, and didn't Ask pull the plug recently?
He forgot to say...
All your interweb are belong to us.
Doing well in a totalitarian regime...
...is not a badge of honour.
It means you joined the dark side.
I totally agree.
That's why I don't pat any American corporations on the back for being "kind-hearted global citizens." There are a few EU and Canadian corporations though that I actually think I could be proud of working for.
Rest assured, Chinese business comes before Lo Fun (Whites) from overseas
The Chinese government has many levers to pull to favour or advance their interests.
The difference is America gets royally choked up when other countries do what they do. America has the finesse of an elephant whilst the Chinese are like a butterfly.
If you examine the record America's interest is in protecting oil supply lines whereas the Chinese are securing raw materials. Which do you think is the smarter?
Understanding the Chinese market...
@rxdg, @ghormax, @jaitcH, etc...
There is a fundamental mis-understanding by so many commentators in the West about the nature of Chinese censorship. Everyone shouts blue murder about the "censorship" that occurs as if it's the the primary reason that sites get blocked in China.
@ghormax, these "web 2.0" site you refer to. I pose a question that what do sites like Youtube, facebook, twitter, foursquare, tumblr have in common? The answer would be that they all have behemoth "competitors" within China. Notice how facebook was freely available as was youtube until the chinese "competitors" established themselves and got notoriety in China. I say "competitors" because like so many many many things here in China they were almost all direct and complete knock-offs of the originals.
The Chinese facebook began as "xiaonei.cn" or "little campus" was set-up just like the face book model, for college students only. Now it's "renrenwang" or "everybody net" and everyone can use it. When this site appeared it was a byte for byte clone.
Now the same goes for that wretch Baidu, the chinese twitters, foursquares and what not. Half the social market in China is all cornered by Tencent (QQ makers). Youtube has it's clones in Yukou and tudou. China's "censorship" is simply blocking and tantamount the most overtly subversive, but to some (under the shade of polticial censorship) economic protectionism. They simply don't want foreign companies to have a foothold in China. They keep the market in their market.
Robin Li's statements also smack of overbearing arrogance. As mentioned, business in China is just simply not based on a meritocracy of sorts as it might be in the west. A business does not become most successful by offering the best service and being the most popular. It just doesn't happen. Whilst there are lobbyists and corporate shills in the west, corruption is ENDEMIC in China, at every level and every entry point.
It's simply not the case where countless articles criticise google for failing to "crack" the chinese market. It's not failing to understand the market either as Robin puts it. He is being cheeky as fuck. Google have simply not been allowed to succeed. Google's image search is routinely hampered by non-loading results due to the Great firewall - and here is the most important part.
If you visit google outside of China you get a much sanitised version of the engine. Baidu as a google knock off offers music and movie searches with direct downloads to pirated material. Something that Google would be destroyed for in the western media if they ever tapped into the market that way and offered the same service. You won't get the same illegal results from Baidu from outside of China as you will in.
Trust me when I say, the censorship of the Internet in China is goes much deeper and far beyond political censure. It's a far more insidious world we live in. The old way used to be invade a country and conquest. China is just going to do it economically and the trust fund starts at home.
«Used by 99 % of [Chinese] users»
is not the quite the same as enjoying a 99 % market share - according to StatCounter's Global Stats (http://preview.tinyurl.com/3734t69 ), Baidu's and Google's shares of the Chinese market amount to approximately 58 % and 39 %, respectively, which would seem to indicate that Google's understanding of the Chinese market is at least as good as Microsoft's (Bing's) understanding of the US market, in which, according to the same source (http://preview.tinyurl.com/3x25y3f ), Google enjoys a share of 82 %, while both Bing and Yahoo enjoy a share of 8 %, respectively....