Alibaba is partnering with mobile browser company UCWeb to launch a mobile only search service to cater to China's growing smartphone users.
The newly formed venture is called Shenma and the mobile search engine is already available at sm.cn. UCWeb owns controlling stake in the partnership and could possibly make the search engine a default in its mobile browser app. UCWeb operates China's largest third-party mobile browser.
The company currently lists Baidu, Google, Yicha and Taobao in the UC Browser, but will now feature Shenma as well. "Shenma" means "god horse," and is built to target Chinese users who are increasingly using their smartphones to search for data rather than their PCs.
Alibaba will be looking to take on Baidu, China's clear leader in the search market. According to Analysys International, Baidu had 72 percent market share at the end of the fourth quarter last year.
The e-commerce giant launched a shopping search engine called Etao a few years ago, and a general search engine at s.aliyun.com, but has never had to contend with Baidu.