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Google China Launches Shopping Search

Google is eyeing the booming Chinese e-commerce search market after entering into the music search space there in March.

Google China (NASDAQ: GOOG) announced that it rolled out a beta version of a shopping search channel, available on the Google China homepage, that will provide online buyers with information about a wide range of products.

The new search channel will provide users with pricing information and will include user reviews and the most popular items searched, as well as links to other popular Chinese e-commerce sites, including Taobao.com, Paipai.com, Joyo.cn, and Dangdang.com, according to a company statement.

The Google product enters a market that already counts a number of competitors in e-commerce search, such as gouwu.youdao.com, which Chinese Internet giant NetEase.com (NASDAQ: NTES) launched in January.

Google's service also marks the search heavyweight's latest push into China, a market where general-interest search is dominated by rival Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU), which also offers a similar online shopping platform, Youa.baidu.

Its new shopping platform, isn't Google's first foray into the Chinese market, however. On March 30, Google launched a free music search service in China, an attempt to catch up to Baidu. Under that deal, Google offers free downloads of legal music, sharing revenues with its Chinese partner Top100.cn and record companies.

Baidu offers a popular search feature which, despite lawsuits from many music labels, enables users to download music through third-party sites.

Meanwhile, data out this week indicates that Google now has grown to claim one-third of search revenue in China, though it still trails Baidu, according to Chinese Internet research firm iResearch.

Google's portion of Chinese search revenues totaled 32.8 percent, up from 29.8 percent in Q4 and 25.8 percent a year ago, according to iResearch.

However, its share of total searches fell to 20.9 percent from 23 percent in Q4. Its share was 18.7 percent in Q1 2008.

Google and Baidu together dominate the search revenue sector, together netting 95.3 percent of search revenues in China in the first quarter, with the remainder taken by smaller rivals such as Yahoo China, Sogou, Sina and NetEase, according to the iResearch report.

China's search service market surged 41.2 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, boosted by an increase of search engine marketing activities, iResearch said.