BEIJING/BANGKOK: Baidu, the largest search engine in China, intends to expand in Thailand next year and will increase its marketing budget significantly in support of that aim, one of the company's leading executives has said.

Richard Lee, director of international business development at Baidu, told The Nation that the company regards Thailand as an important market because of its fast-growing adoption of technology as well as its mobile internet usage.

"By next year, we will be more active in Thailand," Lee said. "We will have Baidu search-engine service for Thais and we will continue to heavily promote our existing services in Thailand.

"Next year, the marketing budget for Thailand is set to be rapidly increased by several times compared [with] the usual annual marketing budget."

Baidu, often referred to as China's Google, has been operating in Thailand for three years and views the country as an early step in its bid to expand into more than half the countries of the world by 2020.

It also operates in Indonesia and next year plans to open offices in India and Mexico.

However, the company was hit by a series of complaints from Thai internet users earlier this year after some computer stores pre-installed Baidu software without customers being made aware and it was claimed that slowed down their computers.

Commenting on the controversy, Lee said: "We realise that there was some negative feedback in the Thai market for some services that users might feel not comfortable using. It is because some of our local partners broke the rules to use inappropriate ways of expanding our services."

Baidu plans to make its search engine fully available for both personal computers and mobile devices while it also seeks to improve its communication to Thai consumers.

Data sourced from The Nation, Tech in Asia; additional content by Warc staff