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November 11th, 2010
02:09 PM ET

Baidu: innovator or Google clone?

Baidu is often referred to as "the Google of China", and recently it's got a taste of that Silicon Valley search giant's success. It's one of the best performing stocks on the NASDAQ at the moment: up more than 170% so far this year.

Flourishing finances aren't the only similarities between Baidu and Google. Both have minimalistic, white homepages with search boxes in the center.

So is Baidu simply a clone with a homecourt advantage, or an innovator in its own right?

Baidu's Director of International Communications Kaiser Kuo insists it is the latter. "I think Baidu has gotten a bad wrap for an awfully long time about simply being, at the most complementary, a fast follower...even from the really early days it was never a merely derivative company."

And Kaiser Kuo makes no secret of Baidu's plans to expand upon it's dominance in China to become a global brand. "Robin Li (Baidu's CEO and Chairman) has said before that in ten years he hopes that Baidu is a household name in half of the world's internet markets. I don't think that's an unrealistic goal at all. We are developing in in nine different languages besides Chinese and English. We're looking at some developing world markets, especially in Latin America, South East Asia, the Middle East. But none of this is really near-term. I think that we're very much still focused on the domestic Chinese market."

Sounds like wherever you are in the world, you may be seeing more of Baidu on a computer near you sometime soon.

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Filed under: China • General • Titans of Tech
November 9th, 2010
02:59 PM ET

What makes a video go viral in China?

It's a good question: the ingredients for viral video success in the world's largest internet market aren't what you might think.

Admit it, we've all spent hours online checking out videos sent to us by our friends. I'm thinking the cutesy "Charlie Bit My Finger", the classic "Evolution of Dance", or even the video that put some sex appeal into the last U.S. Presidential campaign "Crush on Obama". Most people will have clicked onto YouTube to get their viral video fill.

But just a glimpse of the front page of Tudou.com, one of China's foremost video-sharing sites, and you get a glimpse of a different kind of online community.

The CEO of the company, Gary Wang, doesn't like to compare his site with YouTube too much. He told News Stream "On YouTube it's more often about dancing babies and cats and dogs and that kind of stuff, more cuddly subjects. In China, there's a fair amount of unsatisfied feeling".

That's clear to see when you look at a number of videos on sites like Tudou.

I'll give you an example. There's been huge outcry online against a police official's son in China's northern Hebei Province. He allegedly tried to flee the scene of a fatal car accident last month crying out "Sue me if you can...My father is Li Gang!". That's become a catchphrase for abuse of power among China's estimated 420-million netizens, and there are poems, music videos, raps and cartoons posted online all using that same ironic rallying cry. Chinese artist-activist Ai Weiwei has even uploaded his own contribution.

But it's not all anger. There's a lot of love on China's video-sharing sites too. One grassroots fundraising campaign has so far raised around $3000 for a grandmother forced to deliver heavy water bottles by bicycle in order to care for her disabled son.

As Gary Wang succinctly put it, in China "the Web 2.0 phenomenon is actually becoming a lot more powerful than it probably is in the U.S."

Something to think about next time you're watching Keyboard Cat.

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Filed under: General • Titans of Tech
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