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Chinese users turning backs on Google

Baidu winning search battle

Fewer Chinese users are seeking out Google for its search services, according to a report by the CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Centre).

According to the survey by the nation's official internet number cruncher, 62.1 percent of Chinese users turned to local favorite Baidu for search, up from about 52 percent in 2005. Much of that growth came at Google's expense. Baidu also had the highest brand recognition among search engines: 86.5 percent, compared with only 64 percent for Google.

CNNIC is an agency that monitors internet use in China. Its surveys are considered representative of internet use in that country, although it rarely releases its methodology or sample size. However, for this survey, CNNIC said it interviewed 4,500 Chinese internet users: 1,500 in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. It also said the poll had a 5 percent margin of error.

Google saw its market share drop from 33 percent last year to 25.3 percent in the current survey. But it did come out ahead in one respect: it was the first choice for more non-student users with an annual income of greater than 3,000 renminbi (about £200) than its rivals, with 46.5 percent.

Despite the rivalry between Baidu and Google, it seems that a bigger user search pie would benefit both: 76.3 percent of survey respondents said they used more than one search engine regularly for a given subject.

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