Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) announced today it has officially launched its search engine in its biggest market yet outside of China, Brazil.
The Portuguese-language version of Baidu, dubbed ‘Baidu Busca’, currently covers web, images, and video searches. It’s also incorporated a localized version of its Postbar (“Tieba” in Chinese) trending forum feature (warning: some content NSFW).
Baidu founder and CEO Robin Li was in Brasilia Thursday to announce the launch, which happened to coincide with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
Baidu spokesperson Kaiser Kuo tells Tech in Asia the Brazilian version comes decked out with several features not available in the Chinese version: a smart searchbox that predicts queries and shows preview shots of top results while typing, an open content platform with several local partners, and some interactive elements like the ability for users to “like” their favorite athletes and celebrities.
Kuo says Baidu hasn’t announced any targets yet for Baidu Busca.
This is just the beginning of what we anticipate will be a long road that’s going to require patience and determination. One thing we’re doing is focusing on more local development. Right now most of what you see was developed in Beijing. But we’re now talking to local universities and we’re planning on building an R&D center in Brazil focused on Big Data and improving UX in a highly localized way.
Thai and Arabic on the way
Kuo says users can “definitely expect Thai […] and Arabic in the not-too-distant future.” He notes both of these are in beta for a small portion of users.
Tech in Asia first spotted three new localized versions of Baidu for Brazil, Egypt, and Thailand back in January when the sites went live as part of an internal test for less than 24 hours. They were taken down soon after.
Baidu has been focusing on Thailand, Brazil, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Egypt for a couple years, gradually rolling out software products like its PC antivirus app, its mobile browser for Android phones, its AOL-style Hao123 listings portal, and Postbar forums. Baidu already has offices in Thailand, Vietnam, Egypt, and Brazil to manage its existing products, so now the company seems more confident to consolidate its services under the Baidu name.
The only other country outside China where Baidu has launched its search engine is Japan, where it has struggled to gain any significant market share.