Baidu Has A Fierce Rival In ByteDance, Experts Say

A man takes pictures at the 2018 Baidu World conference and exhibit in Beijing, China, November 1, 2018. (Photo: REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo)

TikTok's parent company and the world's biggest startup, ByteDance, has just lodged a challenge against China's Google, Baidu. Industry experts said the fight will be tough for ByteDance but if it succeeds in its challenge against the longest-running search engine in the country, the battle could be in its favor.

According to CNBC, analysts are expecting to see ByteDance launching its search engine in line with its existing products such as TikTok. The company also confirmed last week that the first test the search feature with Toutiao, a news app.

In its post on WeChat, ByteDance said the search engine will come "with better user experience," seemingly taunting Baidu, which recently came under fire for its alleged preferences for its own content over other news providers.

It is worth noting, though, that Baidu has over 70 percent of market share in China's overall search segment. This is why some industry experts believe the challenger may have to dig deeper to find ways to topple China's response to Google.

If ByteDance finds success in its tests with Toutiao, analysts are expecting millions of Chinese users to explore the new search feature. Furthermore, if the company leverages on its TikTok user base that has around 500 million active users per month, Baidu may struggle a bit with investors.

As initially speculated, the firm will launch its search engine for mobile use. Head of Technology, Media and Telecoms Research at Mirabaud, Neil Campling, said the move is contrary to Baidu's search engine that launched for the desktop.

Campling further explained that ByteDance has something Baidu does not have: a "walled garden of its own apps." This is because the latter's main business is search, while the former already has other apps through which it generates sales and revenue.

Baidu also has other problems to resolve before ByteDance even came to the picture. The company has faced criticism over its slow move to the mobile circle. While it has a standalone app that now boasts 174 million users who are active daily, it may be just a few years before the TikTok creator catches up.

 Meanwhile, Baidu is keeping busy with new projects that could help retain its pool of users. According to Caixin Global, the company has invested $30 million in China Youzan, a company that generates money through selling e-payment tools.

Youzan is expected to provide Baidu with mini-programs that will make it easier for consumers using the search engine to find a specific product or vendor. Mini-programs are currently trending in China.

Industry experts are closely watching how Baidu will turn around the tide if ByteDance makes a grand debut for its own search engine soon.

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