Qihoo’s new relationship with Alibaba is noteworthy because Alibaba dominates China’s $190 billion e-commerce market through two of its portals, Taobao and Tmall, and is on its way to becoming the first online retail company in the world to handle $1 trillion a year in transactions.
The launch of 360.etao.com, which currently points to Alibaba’s vertical shopping search engine Etao, is part of aggressive efforts by Qihoo 360 to chip away at Baidu’s dominance in China’s search market. Baidu has 67.2% market share and Qihoo 360 holds 14.9%, according to data from analytics firm CNZZ.
Qihoo 360, which launched its search engine just nine months ago, declared in February (link via Google Translate) that it intends to double its current market share to 20% this year. Other competing products Qihoo 360 has produced include vertical search engines focused on music, software, doctors and mapping services.
Qihoo has sought allies among China’s most important Internet companies. One of its current partners is Sina, which runs Sina Weibo, the country’s largest and most influential microblogging platform. The two companies signed a strategic browser game agreement in January.
Baidu has not been sitting idle. It recently launched security software designed to compete with Qihoo 360’s products (before entering the search business, Qihoo was best known for its antivirus software) and is reportedly trying to increase its share of the search market by purchasing Sogou, Internet company Sohu’s search engine. Baidu also prevailed in a lawsuit that accused Qihoo 360 of engaging in unfair business strategies.