Earlier today, Alibaba.com Limited (HKG:1688) (OTCMKTS:ALBCF) and Chinese browser firm UCWeb released a statement announcing they had formed a joint venture named Shenma. A mobile search engine of the same name, the initial product of the new company, can already be downloaded at sm.cn.
Analysts opine the new joint venture could enjoy rapid growth despite going head to head with Baidu. UCWeb, which has a controlling stake in the new firm, is already the operator of China’s largest third-party mobile browser. Several analysts have commented it is likely that UCWeb will make Shenma the default search engine on its browser app. The company’s UC Browser in China currently lists Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU), Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Yicha and Taobao as search engine options.
Mobile is the future in China
Alibaba.com Limited (HKG:1688) (OTCMKTS:ALBCF) and UCWeb decided to begin with a mobile web search engine as smartphones are rapidly evolving the most common way Chinese go online. China already has more than half a billion mobile Internet users, according to data from the China Internet Network Information Center.
The Shenma joint venture is yet another attempt by Alibaba.com Limited (HKG:1688) (OTCMKTS:ALBCF)to expand into the search sector. The ecommerce giant has launched a shopping search engine called Etao and a general search engine over the last coupleof years.
Shenma is integrated with Alibaba ecommerce
Shenma, which can be translated as god horse, was built designed for mobile devices. The company claims it will offer quicker and more efficient searching for mobile apps as well as better integration with Alibaba’s e-commerce platform.
Baidu dominates search in China
Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU), China’s leading search company, is not just standing still in the face of growing competition. The search titan enjoyed a 72% share of China’s mobile Internet search market in 4Q 2013, according to IT research firm Analysys International.
The company has recently increased its mobile-related promotional spending to attract new users, and has been focused on mobile product research over the last year or so. Baidu Inc (ADR) (NASDAQ:BIDU) also announced Sunday that it anticipated that its mobile search traffic will eventually overtake its PC-based search traffic in the second half of 2014.