Microsoft is to tread in search territory which Google has distanced itself from, namely China.
Google’s feud with China goes back to the beginning of last year, where following a hacking incident, Google ceased to censor search results in the country.
This led to a not-very-happy Chinese government asserting pressure, followed by Google pulling their presence from China, redirecting Chinese searches to Hong Kong servers where results don’t have to be censored.
So Microsoft has seen an opportunity to increase Bing’s worldwide market share and access nearly half a billion Chinese net users by forging a partnership with Baidu, China’s leading search engine.
According to several reports, Bing is set to handle English search queries on Baidu, which is a matter Baidu has struggled with in the past (of course, most searches are conducted in Chinese).
By all accounts, Google’s presence in China has dwindled considerably since it began redirecting to Hong Kong, with the search firm alleging that the Chinese government has done all it can to discourage any traffic to the uncensored Google.
Microsoft is, of course, on morally dubious territory when it comes to throwing its lot in with China and censorship, but evidently the audience potential is too tempting.
Bing results won’t immediately be integrated into Baidu, mind, with that expected to happen at some point later this year.
Google continues to have a rocky relationship with China, with more accusations of Gmail hacks originating from within the country levelled last month.