TOKYO, JAPAN – Chinese search engine Baidu has announced that it has officially shut down its search engine operation in Japan as part of its efforts to focus on its mobile business in the country.
“Baidu stopped updating its search index for Japan in 2013, and it finally exited the Japanese search market in mid-March of this year to focus on other parts of the business, like the mobile input method editor, Simeji”, a company representative told China Daily.
Baidu, however, clarified that it will continue to operate its Japan office in Tokyo and will continue to develop other areas, particularly mobile-related operations.
Baidu also did not rule out the possibility of making a comeback to the search market in Japan.
“We are not ruling out the possibility that we may re-introduce search in Japan when the time is right,” a company official said.
Baidu did not elaborate on its decision to shut down its search engine unit in Japan but analysts said the company had been struggling to compete with leading players in the region.
China Market Research Group business analysts John Fang said Baidu had been in Japan for seven years but only managed to corner 2% market share.
Yahoo Inc and Google Inc are the dominant players in Japan’s search market, with a combined 94% market share.
“Baidu’s decision to shift its research and development budget to mobile Internet development and online-to-offline applications is not a setback for the company. It is just strategic adjustment,” said Fang. – BusinessNewsAsia.com