TikTok creator ByteDance recently launched an online search engine, taking its products from information flow to search field. This move may herald the beginning of a battle between it and its largest competitor, Baidu. 

The domain https://m.toutiao.com/search is now active online, proclaiming, “Search what you want,” though an app has yet to manifest. 

ByteDance, an innovative Beijing start-up now worth $75 billion, said in an August 1 WeChat post that they are hiring new staff to build a search engine with an improved user experience. 

Its search engine offers seven categories, including videos, news, vlogs, images, music, users and micro-headlines, while Baidu’s search engine offers 16, including Q&A and maps, as well as services labeled search, community, and developers.

Reading through Toutiao’s search results, it is clear that most come from the apps under ByteDance’s own news aggregator Jinri Toutiao. Any content returned from other providers is labeled “out-of-station,” or similar.

Guo Tao, an avid internet user told the Global Times on Monday that the search engine focuses on its parent company’s own materials, and that the results are therefore limited. He added that on the other end of the spectrum, Baidu offers far too many irrelevant results.

Media earlier reported that Ping Xiaoli, the general manager of Baidu’s app, said in a media briefing last week that there has always been competition in China’s search engine market. He added that this shows the market is still promising, but that Baidu has dominated it with an 80 percent market share. 

Robin Li Yanhong, Baidu’s founder and chief executive, witnessed a slide in market value. CNBC reported that the leading search engine is now valued at $39 billion, about half what it was two years earlier.

Global Times