Chinese search giant Baidu stealthily released a multipurpose media player, a move to complement its software arsenal, and might be posing potential threat to video aggregators such as Qihoo 360’s new product v.360.cn and Youku’s Soku and to even long-established Baofeng.com, a media player vendor slash online streaming service.
Baidu Player, which characterized by features like “playing while downloading”, “Baidu search technology incorporation”, “download management” and so forth highlights the Beijing Zhongguancun-based company’s different approach to media player.
After all, China’s media player market has been pretty well settled down with QVod, Xunlei Kankan and Baofeng ranked in the Top 3, just being an ordinary new and late comer – even with Baidu logo – isn’t disruptive enough to reshape the landscape.
Baidu Player was equipped with “playing while downloading” feature, a technology which has been employed by all the Top 3 (namely QVod, Xunlai Kankan and Baofeng) to directly play a movie or an episode of a TV Show while downloading it. You can jump on to the joy before the file was completely downloaded, no need to wait.
Xunlei, once a single-minded download tool, debuted its own ‘play while download’ video player Xunlei Kankan and quickly rose to the second place in the market according to an iResearch survey. iResearch is a Beijing-based Internet think tank. On the other hand, QVod has long been hailed for the similar feature. It’s the most popular Chinese video player by user numbers with more than 600 million downloads as of last year.
Potential Threat to Video Aggregators?
On top of this and many other features like “screen capturing and sharing”, “highly compatible with nearly all video formats” and so on, Baidu smartly incorporated its search technology into the client, this is posing hidden threat to video aggregators like Soku and V.360.cn, a service disclosed by Zhou Hongyi, CEO of Qihoo 360 in the company’s latest conference call and that the online security vendor was reckoned on bringing in real money.
According to Zhou, Qihoo is aiming to curate the largest and best video search engine in China. 360 Safe Browser, the company’s highly sought-after browser can help route traffic to vertical search engine such as its own video search service v.360.cn, Zhou said. And if it works as 360 wishes, this could be a huge blow to Baidu as ‘video search’ is one of the most popular demands among Chinese digital populace. Zhou believed that in long term many business opportunities could be built on top of video search.
360 Video Search
Now with the silently debut of Baidu Player, Baidu is fighting back. The player is empowered by Baidu’s search infrastructure that users can either ‘search and play’ directly from it or view movies/TV shows recommended by the Player. Either way, Baidu is in scramble for the ‘gateway’ market position. 360 is working on a “browser + video search” combination, while Baidu pulls off a “player + video search” solution as its answer to 360’s aggressive attack.
In recent years, Baidu is under siege from different market players in many territories, Taobao blocked Baidu spider and launched its own price engine Etao. Youku launched Soku, a dedicated video search engine to compete with Baidu Video. Price engine as well video engine are deemed as the future growing engine due to ecommerce/online streaming picking up in China. Baidu needs to defend its leading position in search market, be it on general or vertical front.