Google has launched a beta version of a service that allows Chinese Web surfers to search for businesses in their local area, according to reports.
The service, called Google Bendi, offers similar features to Google Local, which was launched in the US last year. The Chinese service provides information about businesses in over 170 Chinese cities, according to MacWorld on Monday.
China is a massive market, but firms such as Google have a battle on their hands if they want to dominate it.
A rival search engine in China, Baidu.com, already offers a local search service. Google has lost market share in China to Baidu due to the latter's popularity among young Internet users, according to a report published by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) in August. The report claimed that Baidu holds the largest market share in three of China's major cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
The report can be downloaded from the CNNIC Web site.
Last week, Google said it was concerned that Microsoft's attempts to prevent a former employee join the search giant could deter Chinese students from working at Google.