How Baidu Plans to Go Global

Baidu just released a Brazilian search engine, and it plans to do the same in Thai and Egypt. Can Baidu become a truly global search engine platform?

Jul 21, 2014 at 2:30PM

Chinese-language Internet search provider Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) is very interested in expanding its global presence. The company has officially launched a Brazilian search engine, which provides integrated web, image, and video search functionality. More importantly, the company announced it is setting up a research and development center in South America's largest economy, and it is currently in talks to partner with local universities.

Baidu's interest in Brazil appears to be just a small piece of a long-term strategy to increase exposure to key markets where Internet and smartphone penetration rates are still rising. A Baidu spokesman mentioned that the company will probably launch Thai and Egyptian search engines next month. But as Baidu goes global, competition with Google (NASDAQ:GOOG), which currently controls more than 60% of the global search engine market, will get fiercer. Can Baidu become a truly global search engine platform?


Baidu in Portuguese. Source:

Failed attempts?
Baidu's interest in going global isn't exactly new. In the past few years, the Chinese search engine giant has made plenty of attempts to grow its share in foreign markets, but success has been quite limited.

For example, in 2012, the company quietly rolled out some localized products in Vietnam and Singapore, but these sites may not have generated enough traffic to become game-changers.

A new strategy
More recently, in early 2014, the company partnered with France Telecom to offer a mobile browser tailored for African and Middle Eastern users, where France Telecom has about 80 million customers. The web browser, which will be available first in Egypt, would be pre-installed in phones sold by the company's operators there.

A quick comparison between Baidu's past attempts to go global and the company's most recent international projects suggests a change in strategy. The company could now be paying more attention to establishing partnerships with key local sites, institutions, and decision makers.

Its project to increase market share in Africa is based on a partnership with France Telecom. Likewise, the recent release of a Brazilian search engine coincided with various agreements between the Brazilian and Chinese governments, including the creation of a digital city in the remote state of Tocantins. Not surprisingly, Baidu is now talking to local universities, as it plans on building an R&D center in Brazil focused on Big Data. 

The upcoming releases of localized search engines for Thailand and Egypt will likely come together with announcements of key strategic partnerships. As a matter of fact, from a technical perspective, the localized versions for Egypt and Thailand may be ready for release, as Tech in Asia spotted these versions back in January when the sites went live as part of internal testing for less than 24 hours. Baidu may now be working on creating key partnerships in Egypt and Thailand.

Competing against Google
Gaining market share from Google in foreign markets will not be an easy task. The largest search engine company in the world, which recently reported healthy revenue but lower earnings per share than what the Street expected, also needs to increase its exposure to key Internet markets in order to continue delivering steady growth in user metrics.

Most likely, competition will be particularly fierce in markets with relatively low smartphone and Internet penetration. First-time smartphone users in these markets are not totally accustomed to a particular mobile search engine. Needless to say, it is very important for Baidu to get these users before they get accustomed to Google, which has plenty of pre-installed applications on Android devices.

Final Foolish takeaway
Baidu, the largest search engine in China, is very interested in increasing its share in foreign markets. To do so, the company appears to be employing a new strategy, based on establishing key partnerships with local institutions, from universities (Brazil) to telecommunications corporations (France Telecom).

Leaked: Apple's next smart device (warning, it may shock you)
Apple recently recruited a secret-development "dream team" to guarantee its newest smart device was kept hidden from the public for as long as possible. But the secret is out, and some early viewers are claiming its everyday impact could trump the iPod, iPhone, and the iPad. In fact, ABI Research predicts 485 million of this type of device will be sold per year. But one small company makes Apple's gadget possible. And its stock price has nearly unlimited room to run for early in-the-know investors. To be one of them, and see Apple's newest smart gizmo, just click here!

Victoria Zhang has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Baidu and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of Baidu and Google (C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers