Qihoo 360 shares slipped after it disclosed today that its iOS apps had been removed from the iTunes stores without warning, reports Bloomberg. The Chinese security software maker also received an unfair competition warning from the Chinese government, according to the Beijing Industrial and Commercial Administration Bureau’s microblog. But Qihoo didn’t let its no good, very bad day keep it from taking a jab at its main rival Baidu (AKA the Google of China).
Qihoo CFO Alex Xu told Bloomberg that his company’s apps had been “abruptly removed” from the iTunes store last week for no apparent reason. This is not the first time Apple has removed Qihoo’s apps from its store. About a year ago, they were removed for several days before being reinstated. At that time, Qihoo told Tech In Asia that the ban was caused by “unusually high numbers of positive/negative feedback by unknown sources,” which triggered an automatic temporary removal.
In separate news, the company was issued an executive warning that its use of anti-virus software in Internet browsers was considered unfair competition. Perhaps as a distraction, Qihoo also told users today that rival Baidu, the Chinese search behemoth, is using a plug-in that can determine whether or not Internet users are on Qihoo’s browser, and display a pop-up window saying that the Qihoo browser is incompatible with Baidu’s system.
Qihoo has accused Baidu of unfair competition since Qihoo launched search engine 360 Secure Browser, a direct competitor to Baidu’s flagship product, in August. At that time, Qihoo told the BBC that Baidu, which holds about 80% of the Chinese search market, had been aggressively holding on to its user base by redirecting Qihoo users who searched for Baidu-related services to its own search page.
Baidu has also made its own moves onto Qihoo’s core security software business. In October, Baidu launched its new Baidu PC Faster suite, which serves as a pre-emptive strike against Qihoo’s potential plans to enter the fast-growing Southeast Asian market. And earlier this month, reports surfaced that Baidu is planning to become a strategic investor in security software company Kingsoft, which would make it an even stronger rival against Qihoo’s security business.
In an emailed statement, Baidu did not respond directly to Qihoo’s accusations, but it did say that it “has since come to our attention that one of our competitors has intentionally spread unfounded rumors on the Internet” about an upgrade to its Phoenix Nest customer management system. Without naming Qihoo’s browser, Baidu added: “Ensuring data security is a complex and arduous task. Improvements in data security will from time to time clash with certain companies’ interests and, as a result, lead them to make unfounded accusations against their competitors.”
Qihoo has been emailed for comment.