China’s news that it is developing its own state-run search engine is not the country’s first such project, but this time around they are supported by China Mobile Communications and Xinhua News Agency.
China Mobile has the world’s largest number of mobile subscribers, guaranteeing an instant and enormous audience on the mobile front.
Xinhua, China’s official state-run news service, and can provide instant media content and online presence, and will be the dominant member of the joint venture, although its exact role is not yet known.
Working under the name Search Engine New Media International Communications Company, the two companies say the venture is part of a wider move by China to build a stronger presence online to “safeguard its information security and push forward the robust, healthy and orderly development of China’s new media industry.”
The details are still sketchy, but despite the backing of the government and two such powerful media players, the venture faces a tough and uncertain market, with local search engine Baidu already holding 70% of the market, and Google holding about 25%.
The advantages are that China’s internet market is the world’s largest, with over 420 million users, and a massive mobile market of more than 800 million subscribers, of which China Mobile has 550 million.
Google recently shifted its operations from mainland China to Hong Kong amid controversy over internet censoring by the Chinese government.