On Monday, Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce company, launched search engine aliyun.com.
Deriving its name from Alibaba's cloud-computing division, the search engine offers four main search options: web, news, images, and maps. Aliyun also includes search widgets. For example, when searching for the weather, the site displays a pictorial forecast for the whole week, something many might find familiar on Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL).
This isn't the company's first foray into search. Alibaba runs China's popular shopping search engine, eTao, while competitor Google Shopping in China closed its doors in Dec. 2012. Meanwhile, the company's e-commerce site, Taobao, launched a mapping service back in Oct. 2012.
Currently, the search market in China is heating up. Last summer, anti-virus marker Qihoo (NYSE:QIHU) launched its own search engine, so.com, to take on Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU). Since then, reports show that Qihoo has captured second place with about 10% of the country's search market share. While Baidu remains first, its market share has fallen to 73%. Google is now fourth with 5% behind Sohu's (NASDAQ:SOHU) Sogou with 8%.
Fool contributor Kevin Chen owns shares of Baidu. You can follow him on Twitter at @TMFKang or on Google+. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Baidu and Google. It also owns shares of Sohu.com. 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.