I chanced upon a banner ad on Baidu search results page after searching “google”, which offers “fast, stable access” to Google. Taking a closer look, I found that it’s a Baidu product — Baidu Browser.
So, as a frequent traveler to China, it got me curious as Google search in China is very unstable and often can not be access. And, I downloaded and installed Baidu Browser, which was launched in 2011. Without using any VPN service, accessing Google search is indeed fast and stable! Then I tried Gmail and got the same improved experience.
People searching for Google are a group with relatively higher net worth than the average China internet user. Baidu adds a function to its browser to target this group of users, including expats working and living in China. So if you are reading this, my guess is you are very likely a Google user and you can try Baidu Browser here yourself.
One reminder though; if you use Baidu Browser to access Gmail, the access location is not your local one. You will be accessing Google through Baidu. I know this after finding out the access IP to my gmail account 18.104.22.168, and then locating this IP to Baidu:
This means technically you could lose your login and personal information to Baidu.
Baidu is not the only or the first one employing this tactic. Recently Netease promoted its email management app Mail Master as a tool for better and smoother access to Gmail.
Browser is a strategic product for internet big players like Baidu and other internet companies. In August 2014, top 6 Chinese web browsers by total reach were IE, Chrome, Sougou, Cheetah, QQ Browser and 2345.