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.

Wei Sheng

Wei Sheng is TechNode's feature editor. You can contact him at shengwei [at] technode [dot] com.

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.