China's equivalent to Google, search engine giant Baidu is now setting sights on Indian shores. The company which is headquartered in Beijing, is reportedly in talks with Zomato, Big Basket and Bookmyshow to buy "strategic stakes" in the companies that began their journey as startups. Baidu also has plans to introduce a new app store called Mobo Market, which will be in direct competition with Google's Play store. Mobo Market is an app store, currently available for Android smartphones and Windows PC. Baidu plans to expand the app store in India in various native Indian languages like Bengali, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu and Urdu.
In a statement to TOI, Tim Yang, Head of Baidu said, "India has a large base of internet users and this is moving up rapidly. Baidu sees the country as a strategic market, and we will have a big focus here...We are looking at opportunities across a number of sectors here, and these could be to buy, merge or invest. We are in discussions with companies which include Zomato, Bookmyshow and Big Basket...In terms of investments, there are no limitations." Baidu was founded in 2000 by Internet pioneer Robin Li, creator of search technology Hyperlink Analysis. In addition to their core web search product, Baidu is known for many popular community-based products, such as Baidu PostBar, the world’s first and largest Chinese-language query-based searchable online community platform, Baidu Knows, the world’s largest Chinese-language interactive knowledge-sharing platform, and Baidu Encyclopedia, the world’s largest user-generated Chinese-language encyclopedia, to name but a few. Beyond these, Baidu also offer dozens of vertical search-based products, such as Maps, Image Search, Video Search, News Search, and many more.
Baidu comes with a strong financial and user backing, which could pose a serious challenge for Google's future in India. Currently, Google's Play Store is the dominating and most widely used app marketplace in the country. Seeing the surge in the number of Chinese technology companies entring India and the government's push for digitisation, it seems likely that Baidu will eventually enter into exclusive partnerships with Indian mobile manufacturers as well.
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