After Google CN got out of the Chinese search market, the situation become like this: Baidu is the dominant player, whilst Sougou and Soso pick up Google’s share. For the last two years, this has been the state of play in the market.
However, with the commencement of 3B WAR, Qihoo 360 has come into the public eye as a search engine, although it’s better known as anti-virus software and a browser. What’s more, it has even caught up with Sogou and Soso, achieving the second position of the Chinese search market.
On 15 August, 360 Search came out and the “3B War” (360 vs. Baidu) began to appear. As 360 Browser already has many users, 360 Search will use this advantage as its weapon to fight for this war. The first step was to change the default search engine from Google CN to 360 Search, which signaled Qihoo 360’s entry into the “search battlefield”.
Whether it’s deliberate or not, this can be taken as 360 Search challenging Baidu and will take some search market share from Baidu. In fact, 360’s market share is growing rapidly, which has exerted pressure on Baidu. You can read about the initial jousting in Baidu’s defence against 360 Search in Daniel’s post.
360 Search’s latest reaction is to perform some IE kernel modifications, which causes users to access Baidu products through 360 search in IE and 360 browser, without forced Baidu’s forced redirection.
To increase their chances of winning this battle, Baidu even partnered with Tencent, who is the opponent of Qihoo 360 and also of Baidu itself to some extent. Baidu will share their database with Tencent, while Tencent will join the Baidu “Security Alliance” and invest 10 billion to set up a safety fund, which fight against 360 of the safety field in return.
This war will impact the search market greatly as Baidu looks to defend its highest market share. If Baidu and 360 Search can compete on algorithm improvements or new ideas to get better search results, this will have a positive impact for the entire search industry for users. Conversely, if they just do underhand little tricks against each other rather than enhance themselves, it will probably have the opposite effect. Users will have to bear the brunt of it for better or worse.
3B WAR is still ongoing. What will Qihoo 360 and Baidu do next? Not only their competitors, but also the users are watching what will happen later. We hope that the search engine developers can improve user experience to achieve its own share of growth, rather than simply outwitting opponents. We appeal: healthy competition, better result for end users!