Baidu vs. Google: An Overview

As Google (GOOGL) maintains its stronghold in the global internet search arena, Baidu, Inc., (BIDU) has the upper hand in China, with 72.37% of the nation's market share as of May 2021. Google China, a subsidiary of Google, ranked fourth in China’s online search market, with a 1.95% share.

Both Google and Baidu are listed on NASDAQ and operate in similar web services spheres, but the companies are quite different. Baidu remains focused on the local Chinese market, while Google is global and continues to expand.

Contrary to the common perception of Baidu as an “online search specific” company, it has a large suite of products and services somewhat similar to Google. Both companies have multiple offerings across search products, social products, knowledge products, location-based products, music products, PC client software, mobile products and services, open platform for developers, games, and translation services. Nonetheless, here are the key differences between Baidu and Google.

Key Takeaways

  • While Baidu continues to have the lead position in the Chinese internet search market, Google remains the undisputed leader globally.
  • Baidu’s local concentration on China remains a concern from an investor's perspective, especially due to increasing domestic competition.
  • If Google can increase its share in the burgeoning Chinese market, it will add significantly to Google’s business and potentially take away from Baidu.
  • Baidu holds the bulk of the search engine market share in China, capturing approximately 72% of the market.
  • Baidu's search engine produces results in Simplified Chinese.

Baidu

Baidu remains a Chinese company, fully compliant with the local laws and censorship, as directed by the state government.

Baidu banks on its comparatively better understanding of local Chinese language and culture, which enables it to better optimize its search technology to the needs of local users. The Chinese language is complex, with some words having multiple meanings. Baidu’s search algorithms place a lot of relevance to the context in which the words are used in the content. Google, both in business and technology, appears to have struggled on these fronts in China.

Baidu is expected to continue its dominance and growth in China, based on its localized offerings in the world’s most populous nation, which still has limited internet penetration.

It consists of two segments, Baidu Core, which involves keyword-based marketing and includes Artificial Intelligence (AI) products and services, and iQIYI, which offers online advertising.

Baidu Core is the company's largest revenue driver, bringing in more than 70% of the company's earnings. Within this segment exists the mobile platform, which features Baidu App—China's number 1 search-plus-fee app—its AI cloud, and other growth initiatives.

544 million

The number of monthly active users (MAU) Baidu recorded as of December 2020.

Google has unique offerings at a global level but is not that strong in such China-specific services. Baidu has unique offerings like a missing person search, senior citizen search, and patent search, which are specific to Chinese legal requirements.

Google

Google has had a few rough patches with the Chinese authorities over freedom of speech and free access to information. While Google continues its operations in China, its capacity is limited.

Google is strong in the rest of the world. It continues to diversify its products and offerings to expand its business in developed markets, including experimenting with offerings like a high-speed broadband network called “Google Fiber” and driverless cars.

Google’s timely bet on buying the mobile operating system Android has allowed it a head start in the global mobile search market. It now contributes to increasing proportions to Google’s revenues.

Both companies generate revenue primarily through online advertising, but Google’s diversification is higher compared to Baidu and continues to increase.

Special Considerations

As artificial intelligence (AI) is further intertwined in human life, Baidu has increased its focus on using it to better processes and the lives of its customers. In particular, the company plans to use it to transform the transportation industry through the use of robotaxis and driverless cars, to detect viruses and advance research in vaccines, and create digital and virtual human-like machines for the services industry.

In February 2021, Baidu launched a multi-modal autonomous driving platform to enable AI-powered transportation: Apollo Robotaxis, Robobuses, and other self-driving vehicles. Launching first in Guangzhou, a city north of Hong Kong, customers will be able to request transportation services on demand.

Creating autonomous cars is not a novel concept for Google, which began its quest in 2009. It continues to improve the technology that powers its self-driving cars. In June 2021, Waymo, a subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet, secured $2.5 billion in an investment round.

Waymo previously launched its autonomous cars in a ride-share program in Phoenix, AZ, and hopes, with its significant capital injections, to soon make these available to consumers for personal use.

Today, Google is expanding its AI focus in the healthcare sector, improving screening for diseases, such as tuberculosis. It is also using AI to help diagnose dermatological issues.

Baidu FAQs

What Is Baidu Used for?

Baidu is China's largest and most widely used search engine, much like Google in the U.S.

Does Baidu Only Work in China?

Baidu works outside of China but was created for users in China. Users can register and use the search engine, but it will return results in Simplified Chinese.

Is There an English Version of Baidu?

Baidu introduced an English site for developers, but the search engine is not available in English. Users can search using English words, but the results produced will return with Simplified Chinese words.

What Is the Baidu Cloud Push Service?

Baidu cloud push service is a cloud service that pushes notifications to mobile devices (e.g., tablets and cell phones). Baidu is one of few push services available in China.

What Is the Baidu Link Appearing on Skype?

Baidu links appearing on Skype have been identified as spam, created by hackers. Microsoft issued the following statement about the breach:

"Some Skype customers have reported their accounts being used to send spam," says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. "There is no breach of Skype security, instead we believe criminals are using username and password combinations obtained illegally to see if they exist on Skype. We continue to take steps to harden the login process and recommend customers update their Skype account to a Microsoft account to benefit from added protections such as two-factor authentication."

Is Baidu Safe to Use?

Baidu is as safe to its users as Google is to its users. The company states that the privacy and security of its customers are of great importance. Their privacy statement advises how information can be collected and used and how users can protect their privacy and restrict the sharing of their information.

Can You Download Files From Baidu Without an Account?

To download files from Baidu, you must have an account, registered with a Chinese phone number. However, some tech experts advise that there are workarounds allowing users to download files without an account.

The Bottom Line

Google has a strong, dominant presence in most countries, except for China, where Baidu is the largest search engine service. In China, Google accounts for less than 2% of the market share, primarily because the Chinese government has restricted its use. Baidu, commanding more than 70% of the market, continues to introduce new products and services to its users to maintain its lead in the Chinese marketplace. For now, it caters to Chinese users, and time will tell if it plans to expand its global footprint.