Is Baidu really a case of path dependence?

The Register, like just about everyone, professes itself baffled by Google’s failure (and growing failure at that) to overtake the local favourite Baidu.  You see it’s the audience, they don’t like change.

This sadly ignores two facts.  Firstly that Google took on and conquered established rivals in America and Europe five or so years ago (remember when we all thought Ask Jeeves was intuitive?).  The second is that Baidu is also relatively new, being formed only in 1999 and becoming dominant around 2002.  It’s true that the Chinese internet population has exploded since then, but still.

We think that Baidu caters for Chinese users far more than Google does, from MP3 searches to layout.  We know that this is an heretical view, and that Google may crack Baidu – but path dependence, the theory that once you get used to something you will ignore its superior rivals, is a particularly poor theory for Baidu.

Frankly we think that anyone trying to get into the Chinese market is mad to ignore Baidu.  But we’ve said that a few times.  Maybe this is our form of path dependence.

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