The tech giant Microsoft, determined to resist the pull toward has-beenery is setting up camp on China's Tmall. The ultimate idea is to push customers to purchase Microsoft products and render it a relevant company in today's tech world.
Tmall: the platform for relevance
Microsoft's bid on itself
E-commerce in China
Korea losing out?
Microsoft moving forward in China
According to the partnership between the two companies, Bing will provide English search results for Baidu.
The terms of the agreement between Baidu and Bing were not disclosed. However, the cooperation will likely work similarly to the Bing-Yahoo agreement signed last year where both companies share the revenues from search engine ads.
Most Chinese Internet users agree to say that Google’s English-language search results are currently more accurate than Baidu. Yet, Baidu service will likely be improved by the partnership with Microsoft.
More than 10 million search queries (in English) are made on Baidu every day, most of them coming from professionals and students. However, this number is not so high compared to the 477 million users claimed by Baidu.
Baidu and Bing will help each other
It has actually been more than a year that Microsoft has searched a search engine partner in China.
Baidu seems the best choice as it is the uncontested search engine leader in China (see search engine market share in China).
Since Google decided to redirect its mainland users to Google Hong Kong, Microsoft has been trying to develop Bing’s market share in China. Until now, one cannot say that it was very successful since Google still detains 11% of market share and Bing only 1%.
Due to the size of China’s Internet market (more than 485 million Chinese netizens in June 2011 according to CNNIC), every search engine strives to get a slice of the cake. In addition to Baidu, Google and Bing, main competitors include Soso and Sogou.
At the same time, the Baidu-Bing deal is also a good opportunity for Baidu to team up with a multinational company that can help it in an international development. Indeed, the Chinese firm has never hidden its willingness to expand abroad.
Microsoft and Alibaba testing Etao search engine
Winhi.net, Microsoft’s new partner in China
The one-year strategic agreement makes Winhi.net Bing's exclusive agency in Guangdong.
Microsoft clearly wants to take avantage of Winhi.net's experience in the Chinese eCommerce and online promotion fields. It is important to note that Winhi.net has over 30,000 quality SMS enterprise clients.
Microsoft wants to boost Bing’s market share in China
Indeed, the US search engine's market share fell from 31% in Q1 to 24% in Q2 according to Beijing-based market research firm Analysys International. China’s overall search engine market reached approximately CNY 4.6 billion.
Microsoft adCenter targets Chinese exporters
The service will earn profits via selling English key words to Chinese companies. These key words, once purchased, appear on search results of Bing, MSN's portal websites, Wall Street Journal, and some famous social networking sites (SNS) like Facebook.
Google vs. Microsoft, battle of China
In January, Google said it would not filter its content according to Chinese regulation, and threatened to pull out of the country. It later shut down its Chinese site google.cn, redirecting mainland users to its unfiltered site in Hong Kong.
Google's advertising platform AdWords accounts for about 20% of China's online market. Contrary to Baidu which dominates the market, Bing has a tiny market share, that is why Microsoft looks for a search engine partner in China.
A Chinese search partner for Bing?
According to its chief executive for Greater China Simon Leung, the computer giant aims to grow its presence in the country and invest over 100 million dollars into Chinese companies.
Microsoft wants to boost Bing market share in China
Contrary to Baidu which dominates China’s search market with a market share over 70%, Bing did not benefit from Google’s Hong Kong move. Google now owns around 21% of the market. Recently, Chinese Internet giant Alibaba invested in Sogou search engine.
Microsoft has already invested around 40 million dollars in domestic firms since 2006. In addition to its search engine ambitions, it also plans on investing in companies in the gaming, cloud computing and software sector.
Google to power Yahoo! Japan for search and ads
Yahoo! Japan is Japan’s biggest site
Yahoo! Japan is Japan’s leading search engine and the country’s biggest website.
Microsoft-Yahoo! search alliance
Both companies announced last year an agreement stating that search ad inventory from Yahoo!, Microsoft, and their respective partners would be combined into a unified search marketplace, giving advertisers access to an audience of more than 560 million searchers worldwide.
The aim of this agreement is to create a competitive choice in search for advertisers and consumers. However, the Yahoo! and Microsoft search alliance doesn't include each company's display advertising, web properties and products like email, instant messaging, etc.
The Bing-Yahoo! merger is expected to complete in the end of this year for advertisers in the US and Canada, and Yahoo! promised to complete all global advertisers’ transitions by 2012.
Bing to power search
Microsoft will manage the technology platforms that deliver the algorithmic (powered by Bing - by the way see our post about how to optimize your site for Bing) and paid search results (powered by adCenter) while Yahoo! Search Marketing will be shut down. Yahoo! and Microsoft will continue to have differentiated consumer search experiences.
Moreover, both companies will each provide customer support to different advertiser segments: Yahoo!’s sales team will exclusively support large advertisers, SEO and SEM agencies, and resellers and their clients. Microsoft will support self-service advertisers.
Microsoft adCenter will be the platform for all search campaigns.
An alliance reshaping the search industry
In 2008, Yahoo! tried to quit the search market but negotiations to sign a deal with Google came to naught.
The alliance enables Bing’s and Yahoo!’s US search market share to go up to 32% (Bing 13% and Yahoo 19%) compared to Google’s 63% (data by ComScore’s US search market share report of June 2010).
Though, I'm not sure this alliance will be enough to counter Google. The US leading search engine remains wiser and better than its rivals as you can check in our SEO comparison on keywords between Google and Bing and our SEO test about national vs. international domain name extensions.
Today let's have a look at the web design of popular websites and let's focus on the main differences between their global and Chinese version.
Here is the comparison of some well-known sites and their Chinese version:
There are some significative differences in web design between amazon.com and amazon.cn.
As you can see below, the Chinese site displays a complete menu (from top search to comment space) at the top of the page in addition to another focused on the catalogue on the left like in the global version.
Some functionnalities differ and are not located at the same position in both sites. For example, the cart icon isn't integrated in the search box but displayed in the top menu on amazon.cn.
Plus, you can notice that the color used on Amazon China's website is a light blue shading compared to a plain dark blue on the worldwide website. You can also see that joyo.com's logo is still displayed on the webpage (Amazon acquired the Chinese bookstore joyo.com in 2004).
Let's now compare the design of Google's websites. As you know, google.cn now redirects to google.com.hk after Google decided in March 2010 to stop censoring its search results in China.
The main web design difference between Google.com and Google.com.hk consists of the numerous icons displayed under the search box in the Hongkongese version that enable users to access directly Google's services.
No difference in the web design of Apple's global and Chinese websites. Check it out yourself:
Yahoo! China's homepage might look similar to the global page: they both display a large block of news content in the middle of their homepage. However, the menu on the left of the page offers more functionnalities on yahoo.com than on yahoo.cn.
There are also differencies in the other blocks (for example 'trending now' vs. access to email on the right).
You can also compare the length of the two versions. Yahoo! China's homepage is very long compared to global's (I cut the homepage screenshot though to enable you to read the end of this post without scrolling down too much...).
The main difference between ebay.com and ebay.cn is the position of the search box within the site. On the global version, the search box is located just under the logo at the top of the home page whereas it is more down in the Chinese website. The organization of the blocks also largely differs.
When I look at MSN's global and Chinese websites, I can see many differences in the homepage pages: not the same structure, not the same colors. However, there is always the bing search box at the top. The global version looks much lighter than its Chinese equivalent to me.
The web design of Microsoft's global website homepage differs from the Chinese site only by the color: sky blue to light blue shading vs. orange to white shading for the Chinese version. Do you have any idea why they chose these colors ? I don't know but microsoft.fr has the same web design as Microsoft China's website...
As you can see above, some companies decided to have the same website design as their global website and only translate content for their Chinese version. Others display a different web design and modify their website structure.
The challenge for global websites is of course to strengthen their brand image and adapt China's market at the same time.
What is bing visual search? well it's just a "new way" for navigation online, using images instead of words. You can for example chose a theme (travel) that you recognise with the image, and then chose a city, that you
try to recognise with the image. Actually, i was looking for beijing, and it's impossible to recognize it. it's not the forbidden city, nor the summer palace, it's some view maybe from chaoyang which was used...
Visual Search Goes Faster?
microsoft says the search is faster. trueth is the search is... longer. specially when at the end, if you click on the picture of beijing, all they are doing actually is... typing beijing for you in the search field of bing... is that a joke? no... doesn't it go faster to type "beijing" in the search field... "YES, it does".
To use this "new way" for surfing, you need to install silverlight, the microsoft competitor product for flash. is it worth it? NO. I'll keep you posted and will tell you if something new is really interesting, but for this, it's just not interesting, not important, useless thing. but it's beautiful, is that enough?