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Baidu and Google search supremacy challenged by new contenders

Baidu and Google's targeted results are turning off Asian users as they move to new players ByteDance and DuckDuckGo

Last June, Baidu, China’s leading search engine, featured a website that promised Chinese students that they could enter university “through the back door.” Nevertheless, the page was a phishing scheme that compromised students’ data and made them pay for falsified plans to go to college.

The Baidu case followed on from one year ago when users looking for medical care alleged that a hospital fooled them into inadequate treatment. The name of the hospital, close to that of a famous university hospital in Shanghai, appeared at the top of the search results on Baidu. A representative of Baidu subsequently shared “our sincere regret for the deceived.” Events like these have raised customer suspicion about Baidu. In both cases, the fake places are believed to have obtained the top search results by charging Baidu more money than the places they were not.

It also has resulted in the absence of search leaders like Baidu and Google by increasing numbers of Asian internet users, especially younger ones. Overflowing with ads and micro-target performance, they’re now searching elsewhere for alternative websites such as Bytedance of China and DuckDuckGo of the US Look no further than Zhao in Shanghai. She said that in mid-August, she removed the Baidu search app from her smartphone as she was disappointed at how the app delivered search results.

Once Zhao used the app to find details on a friend’s suggested romantic film, there were several helpful hits. Nonetheless, this was accompanied by endless lines of reviews from other movies that were customised and linked to paid video streaming sites–which are not much relevant to what she wanted to know.

“It was obvious that Baidu put these streaming sites close to the top because the operators paid,” said Zhao.

Nonetheless, Baidu remains China’s top search engine with a market share of more than 70 per cent, according to the Chinese research specialist Forward Industry Research Institute.

Nevertheless, ByteDance, better known for its video-sharing app from TikTok, has its search engine and challenges the supremacy of Baidu. ByteDance has begun its new business with the search function incorporated in its Toutiao news app. The organisation has not announced how its search engine operates. Nevertheless, a Chinese advertising agency executive said: “It is selling because marketers do not charge the costs of ad fees. And it is clear that the company sees Baidu as its main rival.” A Guangzhou office manager who recently started using the ByteDance search engine praised him, saying: “Search results that seem to be advertisements, so ads are less than half.”

“Baidu’s intrusive advertising threaten consumer usability,” said Liang Zhenpeng, an analyst in the IT industry. “The search engine companies still have the opportunity to enter the market.” Some of its customers were also displaced by Google, which accounts for 90% of the world search market. The US corporation can calculate approximately where users are based on the IP address of its phones and infer the desires and expectations of user based on their search history. This data is then used to modify the findings it displays.

While these features are appealing to marketers, many users will find the desired results. Critics say that Google uses multiple searches to narrow the range of results, thus restricting the role of the search engine as a source of various choices.

According to data marketing company Merkle, Google’s search volume dropped 8 per cent year-on-year over three months to June, while the comparable figure for DuckDuckGo, a rapidly growing search engine in the US, rose 49 per cent over the same span.

In his 30s in Tokyo, an IT developer has recently started to check search engines other than Google. “I don’t like it when I think someone reads my thoughts in advance,” he said. DuckDuckGo is now the engineer’s favourite search engine.

“We don’t watch you,” is the credo of the agency. The search engine is popular because it shows results based only on entered search terms. Previous searches do not affect what happens in subsequent searches. DuckDuckGo’s founder and CEO, Gabriel Weinberg, argues that changing too much of the search results leads to skewed thinking.

Nevertheless, more young people completely abandon search engines. They find then what they need with other resources. For example, most internet surfers often look at review sites or use specific apps while looking for restaurants.

Baidu and Google have spent many years looking for potentially unassailable supremacy. But the power balance seems to be changing.

The voice search is another catalyst of this transition. Smart speakers, car browsers, smartphones and other devices have voice recognition capabilities, which allow hands-free, easy-to-use searches. This will deepen people’s lives with information technology. Gartner, a US research firm, estimates that 30% of all searches will be performed by interfaces that don’t need a monitor next year.

This will probably change the workings of search engines. Up to now, users mostly have typed and selected results on a computer in search terms. Results are also provided verbally with intelligent speakers or other hand-free interfaces. Implying that the search algorithm must choose the most suitable choices. It also includes algorithms of different kinds than those commonly used by search engines.

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