Chinese search giant Baidu is making moves to challenge Google in several countries as its search engine in Thailand, Brazil and Egypt went live for a short while as part of internal testing, as spotted by Tech in Asia.
It isn’t clear when they will officially (and permanently) go live, as a Baidu spokesperson declined to provide official dates for when they are launching localized search engines in any of those markets.
The Baidu spokesperson, however, tells us:
For the time being, it makes a lot more sense for us to focus on emerging markets where our experience in our home market will stand us in better stead. Of course we’re not ruling anything out, but at present Southeast Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa are the geographies on which we’ll concentrate our international energies.
Baidu’s latest move isn’t its first to make its presence felt in countries beyond China, where it is the dominant search engine — as it already has a localized search engine in Japan — but this signals a renewed push to challenge Google.
It’s no surprise that Thailand, Brazil and Egypt are the countries Baidu has chosen to expand its native search engine technology to. After all, Baidu has expanded its Chinese Hao123.com site, which contains a collection of links to useful websites for specific regions, to Thai, Vietnamese and Arabic — as well as Portugese, with its launch in Brazil two years ago. And as we pointed out back then, it was ironic that the Portuguese version of Hao123 featured a Google search box because Baidu’s search engine wasn’t yet optimized for the language.
The company also set up a research center in Singapore with plans to work on Portuguese in addition to Arabic and Southeast Asia languages such as Thai and Vietnamese.
It seems like Baidu’s efforts to woo these markets have finally made it confident enough to offer an alternative to Google by launching its very own search engine there — but the English version of Baidu still seems to be on its way. There could be another possibility though — that Baidu is only targeting emerging markets with localized services, and leaving the English-dominated parts of the world to Google.
Headline image via Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images