Alibaba today announced the establishment of an Intelligent Search Business Department under the Alibaba Innovation Business Group.
Jia Wu, general manager of Ali’s UC Business Department and the Shuqi Business Department, will head up the new department, reporting to Ali Innovation Business Group President Shunyan Zhu.
This is not Alibaba’s first foray into the search engine business. Back in 2005, Ali acquired Yahoo China, aiming to build China’s largest Internet search platform. Ali and UC jointly launched Shenma Search in 2013, which now has a 6.8 percent share in the Chinese search engine market.
“Today, the meaning of search has changed a lot,” Wu recently told the Ali Innovation Business Group. “A search box alone is no longer enough. We must dare to define our search for the future.”
Last year, Ali launched its smart search app Quark, which is driven by a speedy AI engine. From the debut V3.1 to the most recent V188.8.131.524, Quark has released 25 version updates.
Alibaba says that in the past year Quark’s active users have increased by five times; its search volume by six times; and the search volume of its AI camera recognition system by more than 10 times. The company says it has developed an associated marketing strategy to combine a simple search box with AI tools and will continue to invest in its content and services going forward.
Chinese news and information platform Toutiao launched its Toutiao Search in February to compete with Baidu. Three months later, Huawei made waves with its overseas search engine Petal Search. With Alibaba now also making big moves, it would seem China’s tech giants are preparing to go to battle for search engine supremacy.
Journalist: Yuan Yuan | Editor: Michael Sarazen
Very interesting to hear, but I’m not surprised. The search space is growing increasingly harder to game, so it makes sense to have a dedicated department. Still, one has to wonder what this will do for smaller businesses with tiny SEO budgets.
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It’s fascinating to hear, and it doesn’t come as a surprise. The search landscape is becoming more challenging to manipulate, making it logical to establish a dedicated department. However, it raises concerns about the impact on smaller businesses with limited SEO budgets.