If Qihoo 360 (NYSE: QIHU ) is going to use its browser to break into search, Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU ) is going to use its search engine to make a bigger dent in Web browsing.
Tech blog The Next Web reports that China's leading search engine has rolled out a new mobile browser based on Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) market-leading Android platform. Baidu Explorer claims to run 20% faster than its competition, giving it an edge that China's dot-com darling hopes to exploit internationally.
The service is available in more than just Chinese, and a distribution deal with France Telecom's Orange in Egypt is already in place. Baidu rolled out its online services in Arabic and Thai late last year, it's in the process of opening up a research center in Singapore to penetrate Southeast Asia, and it introduced a Portuguese version of its Hao123 link-list website to enter Brazil.
Baidu's goal is to generate more than half of its revenue outside China by 2020, although that target seems aggressive from today's perspective. It hasn't exactly moved the needle in Japan, where it's been pushing its Japanese search engine for four years.
These initiatives won't pay off right away, but Baidu is doing what it has to. Wall Street has shaved off nearly $8 billion of Baidu's market cap over the past two weeks on reports that Qihoo 360 was taking market share in search at Baidu's expense -- and all Qihoo 360 did was replace Google with a proprietary solution this summer on its popular browser.
Like any smart company, Baidu isn't too proud to learn from what's working elsewhere. If browsers can be shoehorns for search, why can't Baidu follow suit -- both in and beyond China?
Baidu's browser naturally incorporates the company's own search, and its success in mobile -- where its market share has been lower than it has been in desktop search -- should benefit greatly from this move if its browser can catch on.
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