Rumor: Microsoft and Baidu to reach a search deal in China

Bing and BaiduAccording to Business Insider, a Chinese press is reporting that Microsoft is closing in on a deal with Baidu, currently China’s largest search engine, as soon as this coming weekend. According to the site:

Microsoft is close to announcing a partnership with Chinese search company Baidu, according to rumors in the Chinese press […] It looks like Baidu is taking over the paid ads on Bing China, and Bing will provide the English language results for Baidu.

While details for the deal is vague, it does make sense for Microsoft to strike a deal with the biggest search engine in the Chinese market, where Google currently does not dominate. In fact, with Google’s stale relationship with the Chinese government over a year ago, it seems unlikely they will gain a strong foothold in the Chinese market in the near future, creating a good chance for Bing to grow a stronger presence in this market.

It’s also worth noting that Microsoft and Baidu entered into a strategic partnership back in 2006, when Bing wasn’t even around. This previous agreement was centered around Baidu’s paid search listings, allowing them to appear on the search results pages of the Chinese versions of Microsoft sites such as MSN and Live Search (which is now Bing). It is expected that this new deal will deepen this partnership between the two companies.

Do take this news with a grain of salt, as nothing official has been confirmed yet. However, it will be interesting to see how this deal turns out, given that Bing is currently in beta form in China (like most countries around the world). What do you think?