Google has the most popular search engine worldwide and dominates completely in some markets. But there are exceptions to this, and China is one of the biggest. And, not only is it far behind the market leader in the country, Google is actually losing search market share, dropping significantly since last year despite continued efforts to get ahead.
Google.cn was the first choice search engine for just 12.7 percent of the users in China at the end August, a significant 3.9 percent drop since last year when it managed 16.6 percent according to data from the China Internet Network Information Center (CINIC), the government domain registration agency. Meanwhile, the local search engine Baidu, which is the market leader in the country, managed to grow by 0.3 percent to reach 77.2 percent of the market.
The drop in Google's share looks bigger than it actually is, as much of it can be attributed to the fact that the report recently separated Google's share and the share of a local search engine which was powered by Google until recently. "Google has subpar usage and first-choice rates among new Internet users," the report reads, estimating that the trend will continue next year. "As the number of Internet users quickly grows, Baidu's first-choice users will continue rising."
China has the world's largest online population, with over 300 million people using the Internet, a figure that is expected to become greater than the US' entire population this year. Google has managed to get interest from the more knowledgeable users and the younger demographic but hasn't proved too popular with the general population. Meanwhile, Microsoft's new search engine Bing managed to get only 6 percent of China's Internet users to give it a shot but Microsoft's greater reach in the country is expected to see further growth. Internet Explorer enjoys a very solid lead among web browsers and Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger is the most popular IM client used in the country.