China's Baidu is stepping into another major market with a search engine geared for Brazil, and is preparing to set up a research and development center in the country.
The search engine formally launched on Friday. With a Portuguese language interface, it offers Web, image and video search, along with a link to Baidu's "Postbar" product, an online forum.
The Brazil site marks Baidu's first international move in search since its Japan search engine launched in 2007.
The company has long led in its home market as China's largest search provider, with a 60 percent share, according to Internet analytics site CNZZ.com. But Baidu has yet to achieve that kind of success in Japan, where Yahoo and Google reign.
With the Brazil site, Baidu is trying yet again, in a country with a population of 200 million. That market, however, is dominated by Google with a 98 percent share in Brazil last year, according to Internet marketing firm Return On Now.
The Chinese company is signaling it wants to tap talent in Brazil. Baidu is establishing a research center in the country, and is in discussions to partner with several local universities, said company spokesman Kaiser Kuo via email.
Baidu has ambitions to eventually become a household name internationally, at a time when other Chinese Internet firms are also eyeing opportunities in foreign markets. Rival Tencent, a social networking and gaming company, has been promoting its messaging app, WeChat, in a emerging markets with some success. But so far, China's top Internet companies are still largely focused on the home market.
In addition to Brazil, Baidu will probably launch search offerings in Thailand and Egypt in the next month, Kuo said.
The two sites are already available online in beta versions at www.baidu.com.eg and www.baidu.co.th.