The site, 360.etao.com, directs the domain to Etao, which will likely drive more traffic to Alibaba but, most importantly, it could develop into a high-profile service to rival Baiduâs dominance in Chinaâs search market.
According to a report on Sina Tech, sources say that collaboration with Alibaba is a key strategy of Qihoo 360 going forward. âAs a late entrant into the search engine scene, in order to get a greater market share Qihoo 360 has to spread out traffic and not accumulate everything in its own hands. This is why it has chosen to cooperate with a number of sites for vertical search engines, and Alibaba is one of them,â the report cited the sources as saying.
An Alibaba spokesperson confirmed to TNW that the site was launched via Alimama, the groupâs open ad platform. Besides Qihoo 360, Alimama is also working withÂ Kingsoft, Sogou, Funshion and others to jointly promote items on Tabao.
âIn essence, this program helps those sites to monetize their traffic and at the same time it provides more channels to help sellers on Taobao Marketplace and Tmall to promote their products online,â the Alibaba rep explained.
As of now, Qihoo 360 has already launched music, maps, software and medical search enginesÂ as it looks to close the gap on Baidu, which accounts for more than 80 percent of Chinaâs search traffic.
Qihoo started off with security software before branching out into operating a browser and just last summer, launching aÂ search engine. It has been very aggressive in taking on Chinese search stalwart Baidu â which has resulted in warnings of unfair play from regulars â and itsÂ roster of existing partnersÂ includes Sina, the firm behind Chinaâs popular Weibo microblogging service. Now, this partnership with Alibaba will take the competition up a notch.
Earlier this year Qihoo 360 stated its aim of achieving 20 percent market share in the Chinese search industry by the end of this year and 40 percent by 2015.
Etao was launched in 2010Â by Alibabaâs e-commerce site Taobao, as it sought to compete against Baidu in terms of online shopping searches. Alibaba is also striving to tap into the social market. ItÂ recently took an 18 percent stake in Sinaâs WeiboÂ in a bid to slow down Tencentâs WeChat success and also bought 28 percent of AutoNavi, Chinaâs top mapping system, suggesting that it is focusing on maps as another prong of its social strategy.
Alibabaâs mobile business, Aliyun, launched a search service that will rival Baidu, and of course Google, on mobile.
Update: We contacted Qihoo 360 and were given confirmation of the partnership with Alibaba, but the company declined to provide further details at this point.
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