Baidu, the Chinese search engine giant, unveiled its own web browser today. The browser will be in direct competition with market giants including Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox. Baidu is marketing the product as ‘simple and reliable’ with features like secure navigation protected against malware infiltration. Baidu Browser will also compete with China’s local browsers players like Tencent, Sohu and 360.
The v1.2 release of the web browser comes with simple interface and is integrated with thousands of popular applications. In fact this week, Baidu started offering a collection of more than 30,000 apps to its new browser in a feature called Treasure House, which is in line with app stores offered by Apple and Google. The apps can quickly connect users to social networking sites, videos, online games and other tools. The browser is available on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 platform.
This week in another web browser development, MoboTap, the mobile technology developer behind the Dolphin Browser, has secured $10 million in Series A funding, led by Sequoia Capital, with Matrix Partners also joining the power team. MoboTap’s Dolphin browser was launched on the Android platform in March 2010, and is Sequoia Capital’s first mobile browser investment. It too has social media integration and custom views for a media-centric offering, which isn’t as delineated as an app marketplace, but appeals to consumers seeking a personalized approach to browsing.
Baidu is also touching on an important feature for today’s consumer–security. This is a hot topic for all the major browsers. Last month Mozilla launched its latest Firefox 5.0 version. It is the first browser to support the “Do Not Track” feature on multiple platforms.
Baidu currently grasps a 75.5% share of China’s search engine market. But China’s web browser market is currently dominated by Microsoft, with about 83% of market share. “The prevalence of Internet Explorer in China is due to many internet users lacking awareness of other browsers in market” according to Liu Ning, a strategy director for IT service provider Digital China.
“The internet browser market can still be versatile and there is still an opportunity for Baidu. Browsers are the entry portal to the internet, so this is a vital area the company wants to tap,” Liu said.
Baidu presently has 75.9 percent share of Internet search engine revenues, with Google coming in second place. Integration of Baidu search engine to its browser and users’ awareness would boost its market share, which will be a threat to the dominance of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Google’s plans to strengthen its own search engine and web browser presence in China.
Competition is gearing up in the web browser space. Mozilla is planning to launch its Firefox updates regularly now, in the same line as Google’s Chrome browser, which is set to work closely with its Chrome OS. Microsoft had provided a stable version of IE 9.0, with many analysts giving it a thumb up, and is now developing its next 10.0 version. The launch of Baidu’s web browser in the world’s largest Internet user market will provide an opportunity of a China’s player to incorporate more of its own products and services, extending its own points of integration.