It’s no secret that there’s not a lot of love lost between Baidu and Qihoo 360. After Qihoo 360, a security company, launched its search engine, it seemed likely that sooner or later Baidu might try to strike back on Qihoo’s home turf: security. And interestingly, Baidu has just launched a security product, but it’s not aimed at China. Instead, the new Baidu PC Faster software suite is targeted squarely at Thailand.
The akwardly-named Baidu PC Faster security suite is available in two languages (English and Thai), and features four main applications: a boot-time manager, a Windows Update manager, a storage cleaner, and a Health Care that supposedly will help solve computer problems and increase security. The .co.th domain name and Thai language option make it clear that these products are target primarily at Thailand, but the English should make the system somewhat accessible throughout Southeast Asia (at least, more accessible than it would be in Chinese).
It’s an interesting strategic move, and likely an attempt to preempt Qihoo’s potential overseas expansion by getting to the Southeast Asian market — where it seems many Chinese companies are headed — before Qihoo. It’s the sort of move that probably really annoys Qihoo CEO Zhou Hongyi, and frankly that might be reason enough for some people at Baidu to move ahead with the strategy.
Of course, Southeast Asia is host to a number of lucrative, fast-growing markets, so it’s a smart business strategy in addition to being a slap in the face of rival Qihoo. But it will be interesting to see how the service is received in a region where being from China is increasingly a hindrance as China’s newfound assertiveness in various territorial disputes with Southeast Asia has annoyed several countries in the region. (For example, Vietnam just banned a popular Chinese video game for containing a controversial map of disputed territory).
For this reason, some Chinese companies have chosen to obscure or downplay their Chinese branding as they expand into the region, but Baidu has chosen to put its name front and center. That isn’t likely to do the company much harm in Thailand, but other countries in Southeast Asia like Vietnam and India (with which China has serious territorial disputes) may look differently on the new suite of products. It’s also worth noting that aside from keeping the Baidu branding, the company seems to be downplaying its China connections; the suite’s About Baidu page, for example, doesn’t mention China at all.
[Techweb via Sina Tech]