China's Baidu Launches Portal for the Elderly

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Top Chinese search engine Baidu has launched a portal that caters to the middle-aged and the elderly with oversized links and few ads.

The portal, which labels itself "Baidu elderly search," features links to content such as revolutionary song downloads and a classical Chinese poetry forum that older Chinese are far more likely to appreciate than the younger generation.

Other links are for Web sites dedicated to calligraphy, bird-raising or the traditional Chinese martial art tai-chi, all pastimes popular mainly among older Chinese.

Baidu hopes the new portal's "considerate" services will boost the number of older Chinese able to use the Internet and search engines, it said Thursday.

The portal may not bring Baidu much new traffic in a country with few elderly Internet users, but the firm is following rivals like Google by launching targeted services around its main search engine, said Zhou Hongmei, an analyst at Beijing-based China IntelliConsulting.

Baidu has held its lead in China's search market with popular tools like message boards and a question-and-answer forum that are more localized than Google services, Zhou said.

While Google has gained users in major cities in recent years, Baidu is especially dominant in other parts of China, said Zhou.

Baidu also offers search channels designed for the the blind and for children.

Less than 6 percent of online Chinese were over 50 years old at the end of last year, but that was a rise of one percentage point from a year earlier, according to the official China Internet Network Information Center.

China had 298 million Internet users at the end of last year, according to the center.

(IDG, the parent company of IDG News Service, is an investor in Baidu.)

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