China's search engines take on Google

BEIJING--China's homegrown Internet search companies said on Wednesday that they were upgrading technology in a bid to take on Google just weeks after the search giant's foray into a market seen worth some $100 million in 2004. The three main domestic players are, styled after Google, Yahoo subsidiary and, which powers search services at three Nasdaq-listed Internet firms.

All are profitable and make money from sponsored links, where clients pay to have Web address appear at the top of a results search, company officials said at a panel discussion here. Google, the world's largest search engine, rolled out Chinese-language ad services in February and is expected to launch a closely watched initial public offering this year. "My job in China is to kick Google's ass,'' said Zhou Hongyi, the bespectacled founder and chief executive of 3721 Network Software, that was bought by Yahoo for $120 million in cash last November.

Yahoo, which is beefing up its search services to compete against Google and Microsoft's MSN Internet division, said in February it was starting to switch to its own search technology and dropping the use of competitor Google. Zhou said the battleground had extended to China, the world's second-largest Internet market by users with some 80 million Web surfers.

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