China's largest search engine, Baidu, said on Tuesday its net profit for the third quarter increased by 59.8 percent year over year on continued growth from advertising customers and improvements made to draw revenue from its online ad services.
Baidu said for the third quarter ending Sept. 30, the company's net profit reached 3.01 billion yuan (US$478 million), growing from the 1.88 billion yuan reported in the same period a year earlier.
The company's revenue for the quarter reached 6.25 billion yuan, a year-over-year increase of 49.7 percent. The growth met the lower end of Baidu's original projections for the quarter, which estimated that revenue would increase by between 49.6 percent and 53.5 percent.
Baidu has long dominated as China's top search engine and has a 73 percent share of the country's search market, according to data analytics site CNZZ.com. Google's market share has declined ever since the company shut down its China-based search engine in 2010 following disputes with the Chinese government related to cyberattacks and censorship.
However, Baidu has to contend with a new rival in China. Local firm Qihoo 360 launched a new search engine in August that now has a 10 percent share of the market. The search engine from Qihoo 360 briefly caused a controversy after its launch when Qihoo 360's search engine began indexing Web pages for Baidu's online services. This went against Baidu's own robot exclusion protocol, which only gives access to its pages to certain competitors, including Google, MSN and a few others.
In response, Baidu later blocked Qihoo 360 from indexing its sites. Now when a user clicks on a Baidu site in Qihoo 360's search results, the user will automatically be redirected to Baidu's homepage.
For the fourth quarter, Baidu projected its revenue will grow year over year by between 37.6 percent and 41.8 percent.