Baidu Inc Shuts Down Its Japanese Search Engine

Chinese search engine giant Baidu has shut down its search operations in Japan. The company entered the Japanese market in 2007 as part of its international expansion plan, but has failed to gain traction in a market dominated by Yahoo! Japan and Google. A Baidu spokeswoman confirmed the report, but added that the company may return to Japanese search market in the future.

Baidu will still have an office in Japan

Japan was Baidu’s first market outside China. Way back in 2007, Baidu founder Robin Li said that he was confident of replicating the company’s at-home success in Japan. The Beijing-based company had allocated $15 million during the first year to strengthen its Japanese-language search engine. Eight years after its entry in Japan, Yahoo and Google still control 90% of the market, leaving little room for Baidu.

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Baidu became the dominant search engine in China after Google exited the country in 2010. Despite closing down its Japanese-language search engine, the Chinese company will still have a presence in Japan. It will continue to promote its Simeiji app, a Japanese language keyboard input for Android and iOS devices, in the country. Simeiji has more than 14 million users.

Baidu has learned some lessons from Japan failure

The Beijing-based Internet behemoth has kept its exit from Japan low-profile. Meanwhile, Baidu is making strategic moves in Egypt with its Arabic-language search engine. It has launched a beta site for the Egyptian market. Baidu is likely to face less competition in emerging markets. It has launched a similar beta site for Thailand as well.

Last year, Baidu formally entered Brazil with a Portuguese-language search engine. The Brazilian version has some advanced features still not available to Chinese users, including a smart search box and some interactive elements. Baidu seems to have learned some lessons from its failure in Japan, as evident in its slow-go approach towards emerging markets.

Baidu shares fell 0.22% to $211.40 in pre-market trading Tuesday.