Sogou Inc joined forces with a Western search engine giant in a new English-language search service, looking to take advantage of Baidu Inc’s recent crisis to gain more market share.
Sogou, which operates China’s third-largest online search engine, said on Thursday that to satisfy Chinese curiosity for global information, it has teamed up with Microsoft’s Bing to launch an English-language search engine
The newly launched search engine, Sogou English, is able to help Chinese users access trillions of pieces of English-language information, including academic developments, Sogou said.
Wang Xiaochuan, CEO of Beijing-based Sogou, said the desire to closely link with the whole world prompted his company to launch the service. “We invite you, together with us, to embrace a bigger world,” Wang said in English in a promotional video for the new service.
The launch of Sogou English comes soon after Baidu, China’s largest search engine operator, encountered its biggest crisis since being founded in 2000.
Early this month, China’s internet regulator launched an investigation into Baidu’s paid search listings. The probe followed the death of Wei Zexi, a computer science major who sought out a controversial treatment for a rare form of cancer after learning of the treatment through Baidu search results.
The case triggered an investigation that found that paid search results misled users. The Cyberspace Administration of China ordered Baidu to adopt a new search listing system that does not fully depend on advertising price but also considers the advertisers’ “reputation”. Its commercial content should be no more than 30 percent per web page, the administration said.
Baidu has seen its market value shrink by more than $5 billion since the controversy.
Pang Yiming, a research director at internet consultancy Analysis International in Beijing, said Sogou will gain market share by making Microsoft’s Bing a backstop.
“Chinese search engines enjoy no edge in searching for global information. This teaming up is going to significantly improve users’ experience on Sogou in searching for information in English,” she said.