Baidu and Qihoo 360 have been at each other’s throats since Qihoo launched a competing search engine a few weeks ago. Now, in the middle of the night, it seems Baidu has struck a blow in its defense: clicking on any Baidu products in 360 search results (for example, its “Baidu Knows” answer service, its “talk bar” BBS forums, its Baike encyclopedia, etc.) results in the user being taken directly to the Baidu homepage.
But Qihoo has responded almost immediately. Now all links on its search service to Baidu products take users to a Qihoo 360 cached copy of the page. Attempting to use the service from that page, though, still results in users being redirected to Baidu’s homepage.
For example, if users search for “Baidu Knows” on 360’s new search service and click on the first response — ostensibly a direct link to “Baidu Knows” — they are instead taken to this cached page. But attempting to search for a question or clicking anything on that page results in users being directed to the Baidu homepage.
Qihoo’s response may boost its own pageviews in the sort term, but in the longer term it strikes me as another win for Baidu. It certainly doesn’t prevent users from accessing Baidu’s services — and Qihoo doesn’t have services of its own to compete with many of Baidu’s products — but it does slow them down and make the search process annoyingly long if one wants answers from Baidu via the 360 search. I suspect that if this remains the status quo, 360 users who like some of Baidu’s products are likely to switch back to Baidu for search because they don’t have to bother with the intermediary steps of loading a cached copy of the page they wanted and then having to start all over again at the Baidu homepage whenever they want to click a link.
This fight seems to be getting ugly, and it’s not the only one. China’s tech industry seems to be all going to war at once. It will be interesting to see who survives. But if this evening’s moves are any indication, neither Baidu nor 360 intends to go out without a fight.
[Sina Tech via Techweb]