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 74.6 percent of the nation’s online search queries, as of February 2019. Google China, a subsidiary of Google, ranked a distant fifth in China’s online search market, with a 2.03 percent 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.

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 as business and as 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.

Lately, Baidu has built its own mobile search apps and has partnered with mobile manufacturers to integrate the Baidu search in smartphones.

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.

 Mobile revenue represented 77% of total net revenues, as of July 31, 2018.

Google

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

Google is strong in the rest of the world. Google 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.

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

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.