The three main domestic players in China's homegrown Internet search firm industry–,, and, have announced that they are upgrading technology in a bid to take on Google just weeks after the search giant moved into a market that is expected to be worth some $100 million in 2004.

All three companies are currently making profits, generating revenue from sponsored links, where clients pay to have Web address appear at the top of a results search.

Google, which is currently the world's largest search engine, rolled out its Chinese-language ad services in February and is expected to launch a closely-watched initial public offering this year. Zhou Hongyi, the founder and chief executive of 3721 Network Software Co Ltd, admitted, however, that it was early days yet, "China's market for Internet services and search has just started. If this is a marathon, we're only at the 1,000 meter mark."


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