The Chinese anti-virus company Qihoo 360 (NYSE:QIHU) launched its own search engine, so.360.cn, late last week. But already 360 Search is in trouble, accused of engaging in dirty tricks to get users to download its 360 Anti-Virus PC app.
It works like this: anyone who searches for “Google” in Chinese – on either the 360 Search page, or on Qihoo’s hao.360.cn portal (sort of like an early AOL links collection) – gets a mislabeled download link for the 360 Anti-Virus app as the second search result. Though the correct site is listed first, you can see in the above image that the totally inaccurate search result is much larger and accompanied by an image. We’ve reached out to Qihoo HQ in Beijing for an explanation, and will update if we hear back.
360 Search looks set to have quite a big impact on the search scene in China, as the afore-mentioned Hao 360 site is, so Qihoo claims, a huge source of web traffic among China’s 380 million desktop PC users, shepherding relatively new internet users to its paid links. Though both Citron Research and Anonymous Analytics have bones to pick with Qihoo over its traffic and revenue claims, Qihoo’s move into the search market will immediately impact on Google, Tencent Soso, and Sogou – and maybe even on search giant Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU).
Google used to be the default search engine on Qihoo’s Hao 360 portal, but is now usurped by 360 Search.
360 Search features seven main tabs: news, web, video, MP3, images, maps, and answers. For the moment, four of those link to Baidu sites (news, MP3, maps, and Baidu ZhiDao for answers), but it’s highly possible that Qihoo will come up with its own versions of those missing features pretty soon.
QQ Tech quotes the Chinese IT expert Wu Hongsheng as saying that 360 Search has already surpassed Google in terms of market share in China – but it’s far too early to have any proof of that.
As for the dirty tricks, it’s not the first time we’ve seen Qihoo engage in Machiavellian tactics to get ahead – just look how it locks users into its 360 Browser, helping push it past Internet Explorer in terms of market share in China.
[Source: QQ Tech - article in Chinese]
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