Baidu-Google Rivalry Continues

    June 1, 2007

Baidu has a huge share of the Chinese search market.  Google does not.  And as if that wasn’t bad enough (from the American company’s perspective), people are once again noticing that Baidu has made fun of its Mountain View-based competitor.

Baidu-Google Rivalry Continues
Baidu-Google Rivalry Continues

Computerworld’s Sumner Lemon reports the content of an advertisement in which a “Western man . . . speaking heavily accented Chinese” interacts with “a suave Chinese man dressed in scholar’s robes laughs.”  I’d never seen this commercial – turns out it was put on YouTube over a year ago – but it’s an interesting video.

“As the ad unfolds, the Chinese scholar proceeds to humiliate the Westerner, mocking his poor Chinese-language skills,” writes Lemon.  “In the end . . . the Westerner is left confused, alone and humiliated.”  These characters represent Baidu and Google, by the way.

I’m not offended – it generally takes more than a commercial to bother me – but can you imagine what would happen if Google put out commercials making fun of a Chinese man’s English?  Aside from the hubbub over Google actually making a commercial, I don’t think it would be a good PR move.

That’s just a side note, though.  The real problem (again, from Google’s point of view) is that the advertisement may be close to reality.  Gord Hotchkiss, who serves as the CEO of Enquiro and also writes for Search Engine Land, notes, “The homegrown competition, Baidu, has a 62% market share.  Google has a 20% market share.  And Google seems to be struggling to grow its market share.  In fact, it’s been slipping . . .”

Google needs to do something – perhaps, as Baidu implies, become more familiar with Chinese – in order to arrest this slide.