Chinese Internet company Qihoo 360 Technology and Google are reportedly nearing a partnership which could threaten current Chinese search incumbent Baidu. Qihoo confirmed with ZDNet on the existence of the tie-up but did not elaborate further.
A Bloomberg report earlier this week cited analyst firm Wedge Partners which said Qihoo's partnership with Google China will likely start at the beginning of 2013. Qihoo CEO Zhou Hongyi previously noted that the company was open to working with other players such as Google, Microsoft and Sougou.
A separate report by news site Barrons cited ABR Investment Strategy which also believed that the Qihoo-Google collaboration will happen soon. ABR said: "We are raising our 2013 search revenue estimates from US$62 million to US$90 million, driven by earlier than expected Google partnership."
When contacted by ZDNet Asia, Qihoo said: "Qihoo can only confirm the existence of the partnership as the company is not in the position to disclose any detailed info of the partnership at this moment."
The Barrons report also cited Citigroup analysts Lee Muzhi and Ravi Sarathy who noted that the Qihoo-Google deal is bad for Google. They reiterated their sell rating of Baidu in view of "Qihoo's monetization in search and its alliance with Google Adwords".
If the deal goes through, it will not be first time Qihoo has partnered Google. Previously, it was using Google's search service in its browser but replaced that with its own search.
Qihoo had established itself in the security software space, but expanded into other Internet services such as browser and most recently search last August.