Google or Baidu? Whose Search Will Power HTC Android Phones in China?

15 Comments

Google’s (s GOOG) back-and-forth with the Chinese government seems to be costing the search giant a chance to dominate the mobile search and applications business in that country. Local handset makers such as ZTE and Huawei are pressing ahead, while Google is supposedly being pushed aside to make room for its main Chinese rival, Baidu.

The news that Baidu was trying to supplant Google’s search on Android in China coincided with word that HTC, one of the most vocal and early proponents of Android, was going to start selling phones in China. It made me wonder if HTC was going to use Google or Baidu? I mean, if HTC wants to do well in China, it has to go with a search engine that accounts for nearly two-thirds of the total searches in that country. But in pursuing such an option, the company also runs the risk of losing its close and preferential relationship with Google.

In order to get more details, I emailed folks over at HTC. I am still waiting to hear back from them. As for Google, the company promptly declined to comment. What do you think? Who will HTC go for?

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15 Comments

Stephen Grey

China with Baidu very success.
Your article should have just stated so will it be BAIDU or Bing.
and he is right.Maybe like it.

Bill C

Hi Om,

HTC has been selling mobile phones in China for many years under the brand name “Dopod” (多普达 in Chinese).

Their S1 Touch was one of the most popular phones of 2008 and 2009 and morphed into the Touch HD and Diamond. All marketed in the Chinese market under the Dopod brand. You can only buy a gray market HTC in China.

Acer is BenQ in China, etc… Many Taiwan companies opened a new subsidiary in China with a new name because they didn’t (don’t) know what would happen politically and wanted to survive and cull of Taiwan companies if one came.

As for Baidu, they are kicking butt. I use Google on my computer and mobile phone for English search because I am an American and am used to it. Most Chinese use Baidu because it does Chinese search better and more accurately.

Google has been available fine for us here over he last years except for a short period before the Olympics in 2008, and a short period of half a day or so when they were making the changeover to HK servers. Many sites are blocked from here, but Google is not one of them.

Funny thing though, when I use Chrome to check Google, it defaults to the Traditional Chinese Google page in Hong Kong. When I use Firefox it defaults to the Simplified version aimed at Mainland China. Then I click the “Google in English” button at the bottom and I get it.

For Mobile, you buy phones two ways here in China; from a phone store (they sell SIM chips but not charging plans) and from the carriers China Mobile (550 million subscribers), China Unicom (has the iPhone in China, 150 million subscribers), or China Telecom (100 million subscribers). If you buy from a phone store, then it will probably have Google as the default search. If you buy from a carrier with a plan, then they have replaced the home screen software with their own version and you will probably get Baidu as default. So Baidu’s strategy is to work with carriers to be replaced as the default in their default software load. I will try to find some numbers on the ration of phone store sales to carrier sales, but I am sure it is far more through phone stores now.

excitingads

I grew up in Pakistan, a china’s neighbor and close friend since early 70s. China is a different world. What is done under cover in United States, is open in China. One who keeps powerful people or authority happy will survive. In U.S. it is big corporate management and in China it is government.

Ian Betteridge

HTC will choose Baidu, because they believe it will help them gain favour with the Chinese government. They know that if you don’t gain favour with the government, it will back the local champions, like Huawei, and place roadblocks in HTC’s way.

And this has nothing to do with what Google did: sooner or later, the Chinese were going to force a disagreement in order to slap Google down. They will never allow a foreign company to become number one in any market. The best that Google can hope for is to be a profitable number two.

Always remember: Chinese capitalism is a direct copy of early British capitalism, where the government backed local “champion” companies and did everything it could to protect them. It’s not modern free-market capitalism.

KyleHase

I can’t read Chinese but it looks like HTC has been selling Android phones to the Chinese market for some time now. Google “HTC G6” or “HTC G7” which are the names used for the Legend and Desire respectively in China. They appear to be running 2.1 with all the Google goodies.

Tsahi Levent-Levi

Om,
HTC will choose to go with Baidu.
HTC has been known to take bold decisions in the past – they took Windows Mobile wholeheartedly, and then switched to Android when they thought it makes business sense.
They are now working with Microsoft on a Windows Phone 7 device in parallel to Google’s Android.
To me this says that HTC will do whatever makes the most business sense to them while at the same time they will know how to keep their relationship with Google and the rest of their partners a warm one.
Tsahi

random

Do know that HTC is already selling phone and started their original business like half decade ago by selling phone in china under the name dopod??

Even now you have HTD HD (in china known as dopod HD)and other HTC phones instead of HTC known as dopod in china!! with android!!! like HTC desire

Common lets get at least some facts right some times!!!

Brian S Hall

HTC will choose Baidu.
Baidu dominate the Chinese search market. HTC wants to sell millions of their smartphones in China.

What’s Google gonna do? Android is “open source” right? Maybe they won’t let HTC get first crack at playing with all the new stuff but I even doubt that.

Steve

Your article should have just stated so will it be BAIDU or Bing. The only one who cares about Google in China is Google and its stockholders. Go to China and drive two hours outside of Shenzhen and the kids on the street with the cell phones don’t know Google let alone think twice when it comes to using Baidu or Google..its Baidu hands down…

Mark Tan

Chinese internet users view Baidu as more relevant and reliable compared to Google, hence the 70% Baidu market share in search. Google needs HTC more than the other way around in China. When Google decided to call out the Chinese government in January it was a decision accompanied with detrimental ramifications. There’s speculation that Baidu will have it’s own mobile operating system with the help of ex-Google engineers that created Android.

Raul

Are you suggesting that Chinese phone buyers will base their purchasing decision on the search that the phone uses by default?

“Oh look, it’s the new HTC android phone! I’ve heard great things about it! Beautiful screen, high megapixel camera, fast processor… Oh, Google search? Never mind. I’ll buy a Razor, instead.”

anon

Razor — ??. Few months ago Motorola declared its Android phones for China will be based on Bing. :)

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