Baidu, China’s top search engine, is quietly testing a new group buying service. Located at t.baidu.com, the new site directly offers promotions, going beyond its current daily deal aggregation efforts.
Currently, the site offers just 10 deals and Beijing is listed as the only city. Baidu has been known to discreetly test potential products without committing to a full-scale launch.
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A Baidu spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.
If Baidu is aiming to enter China’s crowded group buy industry, it’ll be a bit late to the party. One recent report from a local aggregator found that the top 10 sites accounted for 90% of the market’s revenue in 2012. Thousands of Groupon clones sprung up in China a few years ago, but many of them have closed up shop.
The search giant will also find itself in an awkward position if it goes through with this, since would become a direct competitor with deals offered on its pre-existing aggregator.
Meanwhile, Groupon itself is struggling in the US. The company just reported disappointing results for its fourth quarter of 2012, with earnings per share of -$0.12.
Group buys generated loads of excitement when they first arrived on the scene, but global interest in them appears to be cooling. Baidu definitely has the size and user base to make them work, but, considering how advanced the local market already is, the company would be making a risky bet.
(hat tip Marbridge Daily)
Image credit: Simon Lim / AFP / Getty Images