Chinese search engine Baidu.com, which censors its nuanced and oft-irrelevant search results, is now hoping its global maps will be accepted by netizens beyond the Middle Kingdom.
Baidu's Internet map division announced its international strategy in Beijing, and the company stated that they will complete global coverage by the end of 2016. Their overseas users will then account for 50% of their user group by 2020. At present, Baidu Map claims 500 million users in China and it boasts over a 70% market share.
Baidu revealed that the company started international exploration from 2014. In November 2014, Baidu Map launched services in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan. Before the 2016 Chinese New Year, it launched services in Japan, South Korea, Thailand, and Singapore.
On March 31, 2016, the company further expanded map services into 11 countries in Asia Pacific, including Malaysia, Maldives, Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Australia, and New Zealand. So far, Baidu's international map services are available in 18 countries and regions and will cover 150 countries and regions by the end of 2016.
According to statements made to local media by Li Dongmin, general manager of Baidu's map business unit, the international strategy of Baidu Map will be divided into three stages. For the first stage, Baidu Map will target China's 100 million outbound tourists and realize coverage of 150 countries and regions by the end of 2016. For the second stage, they will select the right target markets to launch map services in local languages to improve their influence in local markets.
And for the third stage, Baidu Map will establish a global brand and 50% of their users will be from overseas markets by 2020. At that time, global users can then decide if they can trust themselves to bid adieu to Google Maps and embrace Baidu.