In early 2003, Baidu didn't rank in the top five search engines in China, according to a survey by the Chinese World Internet Project at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. When the group conducted another survey two years later, Baidu ranked No. 1, with 46% of respondents saying they used Baidu as a primary search service, followed by [Google] (27%), Yahoo's 3721 (8.5%) and Sina and Sohu, China's top two portals.
Shawn Wang, Baidu's chief financial officer, said he wasn't aware of Baidu using such tactics against competitors. Wang, who was educated in the U.S. and previously worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers, said Baidu's lead in the market reflected the strength of its technology. He said that when a Baidu user searches for something in Chinese, a new window pops up -- unlike Google's search function.
Losing traction; CREDIT: Los Angeles Times; CHIEF EXECUTIVE: Robin Li, pictured last year, helped start Baidu. Investors gobbled up its Nasdaq offering this month.; PHOTOGRAPHER: Claro Cortes IV Reuters; BAIDU.COM USER: [Shi Lifeng] uses the search engine to find software to download or file-sharing sites, as well as news.; PHOTOGRAPHER: Don Lee Los Angeles Times; AUDIENCE-SAVVY: Baidu filters websites and stories that could upset the government. "We are a Chinese search engine. We have to abide by Chinese laws and regulations," says Shawn Wang, Baidu's chief financial officer. Above, the company's offices in Beijing.; PHOTOGRAPHER: Ng Han Guan Associated Press