The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) has just released its China Search Engine Market Survey Report 2005.

The report is is based on data collected by CNNIC through telephone surveys of users in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The overall questionnaire was designed by Lu Weigang, a senior researcher and consultant at CNNIC.

2005 can easily be called "The Year of Chinese Search" as so many business dealings on the mainland have revolved around online search engines. This past year Baidu.com (BIDU) did its IPO in the United States; Google (GOOG) came in strong in China; Yahoo (YHOO) bought Alibaba to boost the former's search services; and MSN's (MSFT) upgraded Chinese search tool will soon be unveiled.

The report's results show that China's search market is seeing Baidu and Google taking a combined 80% market share. Next to them are Sohu (SOHU), Sina (SINA) and Yahoo.

In particular, Baidu has a 43.9% share in Shanghai compared to 38.2% for Google. In Beijing, Baidu is also the leader with 51.5%, while Google owns only 32.9% of all searches. In Guangzhou, Google has a 28.7% market share while Baidu is the leader with 48%.

For search content, Baidu's entertainment content such as MP3 is most popular among users, and Google is most frequently visited for web page, products, business opportunities, transportation or travel searches.

The report also says that students account for an overwhelmingly large part of the search population in China. They take up 40%, 37% and 30% respectively in the three cities of Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. In particular, Baidu boasts the most student users. This all might be a disappointment to many advertisers, as the student population has less disposable income than older urban professionals.

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