Baidu sings to a new tune as music battle continues

08:36, September 07, 2010      

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China's largest search engine Baidu Inc launched a voice-based music search service on Monday, part of its efforts to grab more users following rival Google Inc's departure from the mainland.

The company said the new feature will enhance its current music search, which is based on voice recognition technology. Users sing for at least 10 seconds, allowing the search service to identify the melody and provide the search results of potential songs.

Google planned to provide a similar service in China but it was postponed. Baidu declined to comment on whether the voice-based function is a beta version and whether it will be used in other search fields.

The move came shortly after Baidu launched an open platform on Sept 2, which enables users to play games, buy books, and listen to songs online after they perform inquiry searches.

There are more than 500 applications that are available on Baidu's platform, ranging from online games to virus scanners, weather forecasts, and stock market information.

Baidu also hopes to boost cooperation with companies to jointly offer third-party content, applications and products through its search engine. Thus far, it has cooperated with 40 businesses.

These initiatives are seen as Baidu's new strategies to secure and boost its market share after Google left the mainland by redirecting its mainland traffic to its servers in Hong Kong.

"It showcased Baidu's determination to further boost its share in a market it already dominates," said Li Zhi, an analyst with domestic research firm Analysys International, adding that the voice-based music search is aimed to diversify Baidu's search products as demand for online entertainment grows.

Critics say Baidu's music search service is providing songs not copyrighted for its usage. Google-backed, a free copyrighted music provider, has put a damper on Baidu's latest effort as music search accounts for a major part of Baidu's traffic.

In the first half of this year, Google's market share in the domestic search market fell to 12.3 percent from 23.6 percent in the second half of last year. Meanwhile, Baidu's market share rose to 34.3 percent from 26.6 percent in the same period, according to Analysys International.

Source: China Daily


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