China's leading search engine is teaming up with the world's largest software company to beef up its English-language queries.
The deal makes sense in theory. Baidu is the undisputed champ of Chinese-language search, accounting for more than three quarters of the country's search traffic. Expanding into Japan -- home to another character-driven language -- a few years ago hasn't been easy. It will probably take even longer before it masters Western searches.
Baidu still needs to be careful here. As a hometown fave, Baidu's decision to lean on Bing for English searches will validate the foreign provider. We all saw what happened when Yahoo! turned to a then-upstart Google
Microsoft has been opportunistic lately, offering up billions to power Yahoo!'s searches and Nokia's
In short, Baidu has more to lose than gain here. In the eyes of China, Bing will become the search engine of choice for English queries. This may dent Google's fading market share at first, but won't it ultimately build up Bing as Baidu's biggest threat as Microsoft beefs up its Chinese-language search?
Be careful with Mr. Softy, Baidu. History hasn't been kind to the outsourcers in this space.
Is Microsoft a friend or foe to Baidu? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has only been to China once, but he relishes admiring its dot-com revolution from afar. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.