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"Robin Li, the company's chairman and CEO, said in a statement that Baidu eyes the Japanese market as its 'ideal next step.' ~ [based on] six months of extensive research into the development of Japanese language search technology."
I also fear that they're going to have to put up with a bit of xenophobia as well. The Japanese don't seem to have a problem with technology from the US or Europe, but when it comes from their Asian neighbors, like Korea or China, it seems to get the cold shoulder. Korea's best, Naver [webmasterworld.com] pulled out of the Japan market almost 2 years ago without making even a dent in the SE market here.
The best thing that Baidu could do in the Japan market would not be to compete with the Yahoo and Google portals, but rather come in solely on the merits of their search technology. When Google came into the Japan market they were more of a supplier of search to various sites rather than destination in and of themselves. If Baidu can come up with a superior SERP, they may have a chance.
[edited by: bill at 1:55 am (utc) on Dec. 5, 2006]
Baidu Thinks It Can Play in Japan [businessweek.com]
Facing slower growth and increased competition at home, Baidu.com (BIDU), the dominant search engine in China, is making its first foray overseas. On a call with analysts following the company's announcement of earnings for the fourth quarter, Baidu Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robin Li said the company will spend $15 million trying to replicate its at-home success in Japan this year.
An interesting article with a few more details of the Baidu plan for Japan.
However, I'm only linking to this article to show the market interest in this project. Personally I don't think the author of this particular article has any clue about the Japanese search space. Anyone who lumps NEC's BIGLOBE (which is simply powered by Google) in with search engines hasn't even looked at page one of the SERPs. I'd take this sort of article with a big grain of salt. ;)