Baidu in Brazil
Two months ago, this blog published reports about the ongoing competition between Facebook and Orkut in order to take control of the Brazilian market of social networks. The figures we reported then enabled us to prove that Facebook does represent a real threat for Google social network, Orkut, in this South American giant.
Today, we would like to talk about the emerging threat that hovers over Google and its leadership in the same scenario we mentioned before: Brazil. Wesley Barbosa, a young Chinese executive only 25 years old, is the man in charge of Baidu operations in South America – Baidu being the most popular search engine in China. This executive understands that Baidu could become the hardest competition ever faced by Google, and Brazil has been chosen as the first piece to be moved in the great puzzle of South America.
Baidu is the search engine used in China par excellence. It was born in 1999 and its design is quite similar to Google’s, for example, its homepage is practically identical to Google’s. The similarities among both search engines are many, but what is the key to Baidu’s success?
The company’s own qualities, such as efficiency in the queries by users, or its ability to adapt to the Chinese cultural model, help to explain this success. This last factor is a tremendously touchy subject, since adapting to the Chinese cultural model requires us to recognize, on the one hand, that Baidu has been able to understand China’s distinctive social features much better than any other of the big international search engines. But on the other hand, we shouldn’t forget China’s situation regarding government censorship, a starting point with which Baidu has been able to deal with much better than the rest of search engines. This situation sparks off many conjectures: its success in China is the result of its own merit, or has it been helped by government favour? In any case, Google’s very bad adaptation to the market in Asia, in general, may be attributed to its great lack of knowledge about Chinese culture. Now finding itself in the opposite situation, Baidu has to prove that it can adapt to western culture, so different from Asian culture. This is a great challenge for Baidu, just as great as distancing itself completely from the censorship that the Chinese government has exercised, while disregarding the harsh criticism it has received, both from national and international sources. In this sense, Baidu should undergo a break-up and a new start in order to avoid a great failure in the western world, or the possibility of being laughed at because it wants to transform a product that is controlled by a dictatorial regime into the reference and symbol of the exchange of information and freedom of expression.
On a global scale, Baidu is already the third search engine, close behind Yahoo: http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?R=1007417