Baidu appears to be interfering with Qihoo’s search results – in a struggle between the two Chinese search engines.
"Every time now users do a search about Baidu, instead of being taken to a particular Baidu website, they are re-directed to Baidu's search homepage,” Alex Hu, Qihoo’s chief financial officer, told the BBC. “That's not how a web company is supposed to behave -- you're affecting the users' experience.”
If someone searches for a map, and gets a link to a Baidu map in the results, when clicking on it he/she doesn't find a map, but Baidu's search page, the BBC explained.
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Qihoo said that when users employed its search engine “to search for a Baidu-related service, its rival re-directed them to its own search page,” the BBC added.
In response, Qihoo will prioritize search services other than Baidu's in its results.
Baidu now has 80 percent of the search market in China – so Qihoo will likely not do much harm to its dominance, at least for now.
Qihoo started offering searches in August.
Earlier, Google (News - Alert) had a Chinese search service but closed it down and since 2010 directs its visitors to its service in Hong Kong.
"It looks like Baidu and Qihoo are in a war, started by Qihoo," Bill Bishop, an industry analyst, told the BBC. "[But] Baidu is still far and away the dominant search provider in China, and it is unlikely that Qihoo would take significant share in the short-term.”
Meanwhile, users are the ones hurt by the conflict because they have to “jump through extra hoops to get the results they want,” according to a recent report from Asia CNET.
Qihoo is a Chinese provider of browser software and security, and has 272 million software users.
“The big question seems to be whether or not Qihoo will be able to convert those 272 million software users into search engine users; if they do, Baidu’s stocks will be taking a major plunge,” she predicts.
Baidu has chosen not to respond for comments on the issue, according to news reports.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman