Baidu Inc (百度), owner of China’s most-used search-engine, released a new Internet browser for mobile devices running Google Inc’s Android system that allows users to play Web games and watch videos without a media player.
The Baidu Explorer was announced by Li Mingyuan (李明遠), general manager of the company’s Mobile & Cloud Computing division, at its annual developer conference in Beijing yesterday. The program is about 20 percent faster than previously available mobile browsers, he said.
Li is counting on the software to help make the company the gateway for people in China accessing the Internet on handsets as it is for desktop users. Baidu overcame competition from Google to win almost 80 percent of the nation’s search-engine market by sales. Now the company’s core business is under threat from Qihoo 360 Technology Co (奇虎360), maker of China’s most-used browser, which started its own search engine last month.
In the second quarter, Baidu accounted for 78.6 percent of China’s search-engine market by revenue, compared with 15.7 percent for Google, according to estimates by researcher Analysys International in Beijing.
Having control of the browser will help Baidu drive more traffic through its own search engine, while also offering more control over the quality of the user experience, Li said.
There are now about 100,000 Web applications that can be run through the mobile browser without installing additional software, allowing users greater choice of programs without consuming memory on the handset, according to Baidu.
The new browser is available for download in both English and Chinese. It is compatible with Android 2.2 and higher versions, and is not currently available for Apple Inc’s iOS system used on the iPhone.
Baidu will also invest more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion) in cloud computing over the coming years, its chief financial officer said yesterday.
The investment will go toward building data centers and hiring staff for its online data-storage service, Baidu said in a statement, quoting Li Xinzhe (李昕晢), but without giving details.