Bytedance has launched a standalone search engine app, further challenging Baidu’s dominance in China’s online search market.
Why it matters: Bytedance, which owns video-sharing apps TikTok and Douyin, is increasingly positioning itself as a direct rival to Baidu.
- Beijing-based Bytedance is expanding beyond its core businesses in news aggregation and short video into e-commerce, gaming, and search.
- Toutiao Search, previously just the search function contained within Bytedance’s news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, is now a standalone app which yields results from the company’s short video apps Douyin and Xigua, as well as general content from around the internet.
- China’s internet users are becoming increasingly accustomed to in-app search engines. Tencent launched a search function for its mega instant messaging app WeChat, allowing users to search for official account articles and content from the wider internet.
Details: Bytedance has released the Toutiao Search app on major Chinese Android app stores including Wandoujia, the Xiaomi App Store, and Huawei’s App Gallery.
- The app is not presently available on Apple’s App Store in China.
- The product was first released on Feb. 20, based on information from the Android app stores.
- Users can search for items in categories such as articles, news, short videos, and pictures. Its results include mini programs that address simple user inquiries such as trash-sorting guidance and currency exchange calculations.
Context: Bytedance in August introduced the in-app search function for Jinri Toutiao. The product was not seen at the time as a direct rival to Baidu’s offering because it was not a dedicated search engine.
- The company has been using the in-app search as a shortcut to building a Baidu rival as its apps have already amassed 1.5 billion monthly active users as of July.
- The eight-year-old company is reported to have been taking increasing ad revenue share from China’s top tech firms including Baidu, Tencent, and Alibaba.