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Baidu's search for the next market could end with India

With China’s internet penetration reaching an optimal level of 700 million, the country’s biggest search engine looks to its neighbour

world Updated: Jun 17, 2016 16:37 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Baidu's company logo is seen at its headquarters in Beijing
Baidu's company logo is seen at its headquarters in Beijing(REUTERS)

China’s tech giant and the country’s leading browser Baidu’s search for the next biggest market has thrown up a lucrative option – India.

As China’s internet penetration, at nearly 700 million, reaches optimal level, India seems to be an experiment worth attempting. 

“We think it is a very dynamic market. It has very big potential,” Richard Lee, head of Baidu’s International Business Development told HT at the company’s headquarters in Beijing recently. 

With Google blocked in China, the nearly $56 billion-company Baidu is considered one of the country’s entrepreneurial success stories. 

Baidu has a small office in Gurgaon, set up in September 2015, and has had a quiet presence in the market for a few years now. 

“In the past few years, they were looking at China. But people are looking at India for new opportunities…as a big market,” Lee said. And, no one, he said wants to miss the bus. “We started looking at the Indian market three-four years ago.”

In fact, some of Baidu’s mobile apps such as the DU speed booster and battery saver are already available in India and are doing fairly well, Lee said. “There are millions of active users of these apps.” 

In fact, with a long-term view, Baidu launched its Mobomarket app store in Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu and Telugu in addition to the existent Hindi and English versions in India last March. 

“It is localising the product. Between the six languages, we are trying to cover 70% of the population,” Lee said. 

Lee said without specifying that the company was willing to expand in India through mergers, acquisitions and investments. “We could look at start-ups,” Lee indicated.