Baidu Comes Under Government Fire 政府“修理”百度

The central government, unwilling to directly tackle Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU) as a monopoly despite its dominant position in the online search market, is instead attacking the company on several smaller fronts in a bid to curtail its influence. In one of two major developments, Chinese media are reporting that the telecoms regulator is preparing new online search regulations that would force all search engines to clearly state which of their results are paid and which are organic. (English article) Baidu currently mixes both types of results together, a practice many consider misleading, and charges advertisers a premium to have their paid results appear alongside organic results — something global leaders Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) stopped doing long ago after public criticism. The influential China Central Television (CCTV), China’s national broadcaster, has been leading the charge on this front, fanning consumer outrage by broadcasting a series of investigative reports on the issue. (English article) In the second development, another industry regulator has called on all major Web sites to stop offering pirated music, in what again looks like a shot aimed at Baidu, whose popular music swapping service is rife with pirated songs. Baidu last month signed its first-ever deal with threel major music labels to provide legal copies of their songs, but added it had no plans to shut down the more popular site offering pirated titles. (previous post) These latest two government campaigns appear to be Beijing’s attempt to create a more level playing field in the lucrative online search market by attacking two of Baidu’s most popular tactics, both of which are ethically questionable. While such moves may help global leaders like Google and Yahoo, which operate in more transparent fashion, they are unlikely to boost domestic search engines like those operated by Tencent (HKEx: 700) and Sohu (Nasdaq: SOHU), which probably also use questionable tactics similar to Baidu’s.

Bottom line: The central government appears to be launching a campaign to rein in monopolistic Baidu, but will need to do more to create a more level playing field in online search.

对于百度(BIDU.O)在中国网络搜索市场上一家独大的局面,政府虽不愿直接开刀,但为限制其影响力,似乎已选择在一些小的方面敲打百度了,就以最近两个较大的事件为例来说明问题。其一,据中国媒体报导,电信监管机构正准备出台在线搜索新规,迫使所有搜索引擎明确列出哪些是付费搜索结果、哪些是自然搜索结果。目前百度是把两种结果混在一起,容易造成误解,这种做法因遭非议,早已被谷歌(GOOG.O)与雅虎(YHOO.O)等弃用。中国中央电视台在炮轰百度问题上打起头阵,针对百度相关问题播报了大量的调查性报导,鼓动公众情绪。 第二例,另一家行业监管机构要求各大网站停止提供盗版音乐,此举看起来又是针对百度,人气很高的百度音乐搜索服务充斥着盗版歌曲。百度上月与三大唱片公司签署正版音乐使用协议,为用户提供合法音乐内容,但百度补充说无意关闭人气更高的、提供盗版音乐下载的音乐搜索服务。政府近来这两大举措出击百度两种受欢迎的应用,其意似乎在于为在线搜索市场创造更加平等的竞争环境。此类举措可能让操作较为透明的谷歌与雅虎等全球巨头渔翁得利,但国内搜索引擎,如腾讯(0700.HK)与搜狐(SOHU.O)等,恐怕难得到好处。


Related postings 相关文章:

Baidu’s One-Dimensional Growth Story Continues 百度亮丽财报难掩前景不确定性

Baidu Seeks Diversification in Tudou Talks 百度求购土豆,寻求多元化

After Years, Baidu Does the Right Thing 百度多年来的一个正确之举

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