Despite Microsoft’s attempts at growing Bing in international markets, the reception has been decidedly mixed, and downright hostile, in some cases. Even a deal with China’s favorite search engine didn’t do much to budge its foreign market share. Microsoft is hoping to change that, though, and it’s turning to what it does best to bring it to the forefront in China: English search.
Rather than trying to compete with Baidu’s huge following and mature algorithms, Microsoft is targeting the 5% of Chinese searches that happen in English. And as strange as that sounds, Microsoft insists that it’s not all that crazy, since those 5% of searches are actually some of China’s most valuable.
These searches are apparently being conducted by high-end, tech savvy audiences, and they offer the greatest money making potential of any search audience. Besides targeting English search, Microsoft is hoping to differentiate Bing by focusing on non-search services, like translation, mapping and dictionary services.
But there’s one problem with targeting English search in China – VPNs. Yahoo points out that a huge chunk of China’s English search audience probably uses VPNs to circumvent the Great Firewall of China. And since that’s an audience that Google is already actively courting, Microsoft is still going to find itself in for an uphill battle.