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Chinese search newbie Jike takes on Baidu and Google

It's government-owned but promises 'natural' search

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Chinese government-owned search engine Jike took another step towards competing with the big boys, Baidu and Google, a year after its launch by announcing advertising on the site.

Jike was set up by state mouthpiece the People’s Daily and launched to great fanfare by former ping pong superstar Deng Yaping in June 2011.

Up until now it has been finding its feet, slowly expanding its search services beyond news to include web pages, images and video, launching an Android app and readying a commercial strategy.

It’s looking to attract particularly small and medium sized firms to advertise on the site and plans to offer free advertising for up to 1,000 SMEs in the next three years, according to China Daily.

A Jike statement translated by the state-run paper notes that “Jike.com still has a long way to go compared with Baidu or Google”, adding that its goal is to "transmit information in a fair and barrier-free manner" and "provide the most natural search results to its users".

Jike logo

Well, as natural as search in the People’s Republic can be, given the massive government-imposed censorship of online content.

The site looks almost identical to market leader Baidu, even down to the blue and red colour scheme, and will have to do something pretty special to make a serious imprint on the market.

At the moment it doesn't really seem to have a USP, while its domestic rival - which has a market share of around 80 per cent - has expanded into the cloud storage, mobile and browser space.

Google, meanwhile, seems set on antagonising the authorities with a new feature designed to notify users when their searches are being blocked by the censors.

For the record, Jike roughly translates to “immediate” in Mandarin, although the name was apparently also chosen because it sounds a little bit like “geek”.

Its owners at the People’s Daily unfortunately don't seem to have checked the Urban Dictionary to see what other meanings are floating around.

These range from “bitchassness times four” to “One who rides shotgun in a vehicle and yells out verbal insults to pedestrians walking about”, and a LOT worse in between. ®

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