According to a report from China Microsoft is on the verge of signing a strategic agreement with Chinese search giant Baidu.
While specific details of the deal are not known as of yet, it is believed that Baidu will take over the paid advertising on Microsoft’s Chinese site while Bing’s search results will be used on Baidu’s English language site. The rapidly growing market in China will be seen by Microsoft as an ideal area to grow market share for its Bing search engine. While Bing has been getting some traction in the United States it has failed to make an impact on Google’s dominance globally. However last year, following an attack on its Gmail service, Google all but pulled out of China leaving the way open for some one else to come in.
When Google was having its issues with censorship imposed on it by the Chinese government and the attacks on human rights activists’ email accounts, Microsoft was relatively silent on the matter. While Google may be the de facto search engine for most of the world, in China Baidu is far-and-away top dog. In the recent list of world’s most valuable brands, Baidu came in position 29, ahead of such heavyweights such as Facebook and Disney. Initially it was predicted that a Microsoft agreement with Baidu would be signed by this weekend but it is now predicted to happen some time next week.
The deal, if it goes ahead, is a smart move by Microsoft and comes the week after it purchased Skype for £5 billion. But while the deal may seem smart on paper, the Redmond company could come under attack at home if people perceive that the deal could be questionable ethically.