China has unveiled a new government-run search engine that will square off against market leader Baidu.
Launched today and operated by telecom company China Mobile and state-run news agency Xinhua, Panguso will let people search for news, Web sites, images, videos, and audio, according to Xinhua. Mobile phone users will also be able to tap into Panguso directly and send search results to their PCs via SMS.
The partnership between Xinhua and China Mobile to build a new search engine was first revealed last summer. Xinhua's role will be to supply the news and information, while China Mobile will deliver behind-the-scenes technology and provide the mobile piece for China's growing number of cell phone users.
"China Mobile would like to create a brand new search engine that meets the demand of the market and consumers and links the Internet with cell phones," China Mobile chairman Wang Jianzhou said at a ceremony to launch the search engine.
Panguso will also to fill a gap left open by Google, which moved its Chinese-based search engine to Hong Kong almost a year ago after running into conflict with the Beijing government over the censorship of search results. However, the new state-run search engine will face off against Baidu, which already holds almost a 75 percent share in China.
With hundreds of millions of Internet users in China, Wang said the market is wide open.
"Although the online search market is highly competitive and several domestic and foreign players have taken their share, the market still has huge potential," he said.
Panguso, of course, will filter results as dictated by the Chinese government. A search of various politically sensitive topics by Reuters turned up nothing or results expressing only the viewpoint of the government.