ByteDance, the company behind the social media fame maker TikTok, has launched a new search engine in China, entering a sector currently dominated by Baidu. Hence it is now part of the search market as it rolls out its own search engine today. The new search engine, named Toutiao Search, is an extension of an existing news aggregator which is also owned by ByteDance.
Toutiao Search pulls in results from the web and additional properties owned by ByteDance. However, as is the case by search engines in China, the results are censored. When searching for a breaking news topic, for example, users will only see results from state-approved media passages in China. Given that Toutiao Search is geared to people in China, it’s unlikely to ever be a peril to Google.
The company told on social media last month it was looking to hire people to work with its search engine team and had hired technical experts from Google, Baidu, and Bing.
It said the search engine would offer content from ByteDance-owned apps, including Jinri Toutiao and the Chinese version of TikTok, as well as the wider web.
Baidu, the leading search engine in China with 76% market share, only has a 1.21% market share worldwide. ByteDance is now the most highly-valued startup in the world, which is what makes the launch of its own search engine particularly notable. Baidu has been the leading search engine in China since 2010 when U.S. search engine legend Google retreated from the Chinese market after it declined to comply with a government request to filter its search results.
Baidu in 2018 accounted for 66% of desktop searches and 71% of mobile searches in China, conferring to market researcher StatCounter.
Not to indication the fact that ByteDance acquired Musical.ly in 2017, turned it into TikTok and made it the most downloaded social media app within a year. TikTok was even downloaded more than Instagram last year.
It will be exciting to see what this company ends up doing in the search engine space. Perhaps, like TikTok, there will eventually be a version made for the worldwide market.