Furthermore, more than 50% of Baidu’s users are under 23 years old. Since 80% of people under 24 years old use the Internet in China, compared to a much lower ratio for older age groups, Baidu’s momentum is bound to continue. Maybe it’s for this reason, and lack of further explosive growth opportunity at home, that Baidu decided to launch its first international search in Japan last week.
Among all the players, the one to watch is Tencent. Given its dominance in IM and success in entering new markets such as casual games, mobile chat and virtual goods - it has the value proposition to make a decent entry into the Chinese search market. The Chinese search market is bound to hold a few surprises in the next year or two, as most Chinese Internet users claim that factors such as duplication of results, freshness and quality of the way results are ranked, could use further improvement.
Speaking of improvement, Google apparently needs to pay more attention to the quality of its image search, as it returns virtually no images for the Chinese name of former president Deng Xiaoping. Baidu, on the other hand, could be leveraging its new Japanese office to offer a better service to its users searching for adult terms like “sex”. Baidu apparently returns only 3 results for “sex” in its Chinese site, whereas its new Japanese site returns 107,000 images for the same search term.