Qihoo’s (NYSE:QIHU) chief executive officer, Hongyi Zhou, told an interviewer from ZDNet earlier this month not to expect his company to surpass rival Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) as the leading search provider in China this year. “Given Baidu’s prominence, it will probably still be the biggest search player in the market,” he said. But having introduced a search browser in August 2012 and with a new high-profile partnership in pocket, the Chinese company now expects to make 2013 a building year.
With plans to improve its search results to better compete with peers and rivals, Qihoo hopes to capitalize on the functionality of its Qihoo 360 Secure Browser to increase its market share. Previously, the Beijing-based company had offered search results powered by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).
But the ZDNet article was published when Qihoo’s partnership with Google was only a rumor. On Friday, analysts at Jefferies & Co. told StreetInsider that Zhou and co-chief financial officer Alex Xu confirmed that Qihoo had made a search ad deal with the technology giant. While this announcement does not mean that Qihoo’s market share will surpass that of Baidu this year, analyst Cynthia Meng told the publication that it will expand gradually as a result.