China’s other search engine providers ponder life without Google

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The Independent Online

As Google and the Chinese government continue their tug of war over content, China's other internet servers must be watching proceedings with mixed emotions.

There's Google's 35.6 percent market share to ponder first and who might pick that up if speculation from some members of the press proves right and the company pulls its services out of China.

That's a massive loss in internet traffic - and business - by anyone's standards when you consider mainland China has around 384 million internet users.

The research firm Analysis International was quoted in the Chinese press last week as estimating that revenue for the online search engine advertising market topped out at 7.15 billion yuan (728 million euros) over the past year.

But the people at Analysis International also said the entire industry was concerned simply because if Google moved out "internet users would have less choice.''

The Chinese internet search service market is already dominated by the Beijing-based Baidu, with 58.4 percent of the market, according to Analysis International.

What's left of the market is currently shared by Sohu.com's Sogou service (one percent), Tencent Holdings' SoSo service (0.7 percent), the Zhongsou service (0.6 percent), NetEase's Youdao (0.4 percent) and a smattering of other services which combined make up the remaining 3.3 percent.

What is worrying market watchers is the potential for a complete lack of competition in the market place - and the effect that might have on China's internet users.

"Without Google, Baidu could be complacent, unmotivated to innovate,'' one market watcher told Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper.

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