Baidu leaves Japanese search market

Baidu recently confirmed its exit from the Japanese market, after failing to compete with Yahoo and Google.

Chinese search giant Baidu has closed down its search engine, eight years after its 2007 strategic international expansion into the Japanese market, a NetEase report said on Monday.

A Baidu spokesperson confirmed that its Japanese-language search engine has been closed down, but added that there is a possibility it will return to the market in the future, or resume services in alignment with other platforms.

Baidu announced plans to expand its businesses into overseas markets in 2006. The company began trial services in Japan -- the first stop in its international expansion road map -- in March 2007, and officially launched the Baidu Japan search engine on January 23, 2008, according to the report.

In an interview back in 2007, Baidu's founder Robin Li said the company planned to spend $15 million to "replicate its at-home success in Japan" during the first year. He expressed great confidence about Baidu's ability to make an impact in the Japanese market.

However, the dominant search engine in China, which seized more than half of the Chinese market share after Google's exit from the country in 2010, failed to make an impact in Japan in the following years, with Yahoo and Google still holding onto more than 90 percent of the total Japanese market, a similar situation to when Baidu first landed.

"Apparently, the search engine Baidu Japan has never attracted a large number of users," said the spokesperson from Baidu.

The company is not giving up on the market entirely, with its office in Japan remaining in operation to promote an application named Simeiji -- a Japanese-language keyboard input that could be deployed on both iOS and Android.

Baidu claims the Simeiji app is one of the top choices in Apple's App Store, with almost 14 million users.