Baidu Inc. is a Chinese web services company. Baidu currently offers range of services, including a Chinese language search engine for websites, audio files, and images. Baidu also offers a 57 search and community services including Baidu Baike, an online collaboratively built encyclopedia, and a searchable keyword-based discussion forum. Baidu is like a Google alternative for the Chinese market, and it’s very popular. To testify that statement, Baidu ranked 6th overall in the Alexa Internet rankings in September, 2011.
More and more people across the world are starting to use internet on mobile. In China, the number of people going online from mobile devices has risen to 388 million, which is a big number to take the market seriously. In order to cash in on the smartphone users from China, Baidu has launched its own mobile web browser in order to secure its share in a mobile market which has more users than the whole US population in totality. Baidu’s mobile browser highlights shift to mobile, cloud computing. Baidu, being a very popular search engine in China, is aiming to go against Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome with its own browser.
According to the company, Baidu Mobile Browser is about 20% faster than its rivals. Baidu has considered Google Chrome’s approach to load webpages and ability to view HD videos. Like the Chrome, even Baidu Mobile Browser will be able to access web-based mobile apps and play HD videos without having to download or install any additional apps.
Currently, Baidu makes money from users searching from laptops and desktops, however, customers are switching to mobile devices, which also poses as a threat to the company if it doesn’t find a way to monetize from mobile search traffic. The search engine giant expects to make money from mobile users through advertising, apps and content of course. Monetizing is however a medium-term concern as its advertising clients will still have to create mobile versions of their websites.
Baidu’s goal is for 80 percent of China’s Android handsets to have downloaded the Baidu Mobile Browser by the end of 2012, Li said.
Baidu still has ties with Yahoo and has been actively researching methods to monetize search engine traffic. Of course, the company won’t be relying just on a browser to generate significant part of the revenue. For instance, Mozilla relies on Google along for its revenue, so Baidu has to treat its browser as a part of a much wider revenue generation system.
Baidu aims to have the browser running on 80% of Chinese Android smartphones, which is really ambitious. May be it will tie up with manufacturers henceforth to have the browser pre-installed on their smartphones. The firm’s CFO, Jennifer Li also said that the company will be spending as much as $1.6 billion (10 billion yuan) to build a cloud computing centre, another market where Baidu hopes to make some cash in the near future.
It’s great that Baidu is looking forward into the future. A Chinese anti-virus software firm called Qihoo 360 Technology entered into the search engine business last month and apparently managed to tumble Baidu’s share by over 17 percent.
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