Although I am not a big fan of Baidu’s search results, I have to admit they are quite innovative. Their latest innovation is something I have not seen anywhere else so far: if you search for game related words such as ??? (mini game) you will first see 4 mini games before you see the links to the highest ranked mini game websites. And not only that, you can even play the games right there on the Baidu.com site, see for example Popcap’s Plants vs. Zombies below. (If anybody from Popcap reads this, did you make a deal with Baidu or are you as surprised as me to see this game there? According to the text the game was supplied by youyouwin.com, not Popcap).
It seems a smart move from Baidu, that can pull this off because they are a semi-monopolist after Google left. I wonder if the users really like it, do you prefer to play games in a search engine result page instead of on a social network or a site dedicated to casual games? Maybe because many of Baidu’s customers are low end users they will be okay with it, but for me it’s annoying and an additional reason to stay away from Baidu.
It seems Baidu is planning to roll out integrated apps for other areas as well. So far there are two other categories that have this feature: entertainment (right now with only PPTV and Douban.fm as search results) and software (that can be downloaded directly without going to another site).