Google apologized Monday following complaints the US search company's new Internet tool for inputting Chinese characters incorporated data from a Chinese rival, an Associated Press report said.
The Associated Press report said the dispute highlights the intense competition in China 's booming online market, where Web portals spend heavily on new search, entertainment and other features and react quickly to competitive threats.
The report said inputting the non-phonetic ideograms in which Chinese is written is a time-consuming chore, and a system that offers more convenience could help a site draw traffic from competitors.
Sohu.com complained that the new software appeared to copy material from Sohu's Sogou search engine, the report said.
Chinese Web surfers pointed out similarities shortly after the release of the Google tool, the report said.
Google said its suggestions for characters are based on data gathered by Google's Chinese-language search engine about the frequency of searches for certain words.
But in a statement, Google acknowledged that Web surfers have pointed out some material came from 'non-Google data sources.' It gave no indication what Google did, how much was from other sources or how it was included in the new tool.
A spokeswoman said she had no additional information.