In a recent interview with local media, Zhou Hongyi, CEO of Qihoo, said this year, 2013, would be an important year for the internationalization of Qihoo and would launch an English version of 360 security service, bringing free security service to other places around the world. Qihoo dreams of becoming the biggest Internet security company in the world, he added. (in Chinese)
NQ Mobile (formerly NetQin) is now the only Chinese security company that has an international presence. Out of the 283 million cumulative registered user accounts as of December 2012, 42% were from outside China. It recorded US$91.8 million in net revenue in 2012. Revenues are generated from paying users based on the freemium model. It’s unlike Qihoo’s model that it doesn’t charge users for using security services but make money through advertising and paid games hosted on its platform.
Qihoo has been notorious for not following established rules and some controversial practices. It disrupted the China’s Internet security market by offering products for free in late 2009 that all others who used to sell Internet security products with considerable profits were enraged and became its enemies ever since.
Chinese Internet companies in sectors other than Internet security, including big names such as Tencent and Baidu, also were angered by Qihoo’s attacks. In late 2010, Qihoo accused Tencent of peeping on users’ privacy and rolled out a feature to block ads featured on Tencent’s IM platform. Tencent fight back and sued Qihoo for malicious attacks. Qihoo lost the case recently and plans to appeal.
Baidu was accused by Qihoo of featuring medical scam ads after the latter launched So.cm, a search engine, in late 2012. Mr. Zhou made it clear that they wanted to see Baidu give up health and medical ads which are estimated to be making up 30% of Baidu’s total revenue. To make the intention clearer, Qihoo launched a separate medical and health search service last month and claimed that no paid medical ads would be shown there.
It’s unclear whether this not-following-rules style would be welcome in the global market when Qihoo goes international. But its track record doesn’t seem encouraging. All seven apps of Qihoo’s were removed from Apple’s App Store in Feburary 2012 for manipulating rankings. In January 2013, its apps except the cloud-based storage app were taken off from the App Store again.