ByteDance launches its search engine in China, where Google is banned

With Wukong, the Chinese giant owner of TikTok wants to overshadow Baidu. The ByteDance Promise not to advertise on its new search engine could clearly harm the market leader in China.

With Wukong, ByteDance wants to overshadow Baidu

While Tencent has just announced the closure of its search engine Sogou, ByteDance enters the dance. Indeed, a few days ago, the Chinese giant discreetly launched a new application who promises not to show any advertising. Wukong, a new app available on Apple’s China App Store and Android app stores, brings ByteDance closer to Baidu, the search engine that dominates the Chinese market.

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The new app looks like “ providing quality information and ad-free research “. This phrase could be interpreted as an indirect attack on Baidu, which has long been criticized for its paid listings in search results. In 2016, 21-year-old student Wei Zexi died of a rare cancer after receiving experimental treatments recommended by Baidu. At the time, this case had put Baidu in a delicate situation.

Take the opposite view of the competition

With Wukong, ByteDance wants to take the opposite view from Baidu. For example, when you type ” double eyelid “, a biological characteristic that many Asians associate with beauty, on Baidu there are advertisements for cosmetic surgery clinics. On Wukong, there are forums, sites to advise Internet users or links that lead to health platforms. A radically different approach from Baidu.

Like most search engines, Wukong offers different search categories, such as news, images or videos. The application also allows Internet users to put pages in favorites and has a private mode, for more discreet browsing. This mode makes it possible not to save the history of searches. However, like Baidu, Wukong tends to prioritize products sold by ByteDance affiliates. A common practice in China.

In 2020, several Baidu executives joined ByteDance, including former vice president Wu Haifeng and executive director Sun Wenyu, who both left the dominant search company in China in 2019 after working there for more than a decade. . Wukong therefore represents a new challenge for Baidu. On the other hand, like its competitors, ByteDance will have to deal with the censorship imposed by the government.

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