The shift from PC Internet to mobile Internet has crippled some Internet moguls amid concerns over their mobile profitability, Facebook in the U.S. and Baidu in China are two of the most vivid examples among many others as they have been seeing more and more of their users moving toward mobile ends.
With mobile internet outbreak resulting from smart devices proliferation comes the profound change in how consumers access to digital world and how Internet businesses make money off their offerings. Due to some inborn restrictions like smaller screen size and slower connection, PC-based monetization models are not able to be applied to the mobile field without appropriate adaption. And this is one of the many courses why mobile is hard when coming to the profitable issue.
For Baidu, the mobile dilemma would be more complicated. Putting the fact that more of Baidu’s users are now search from mobile into the context that the search giant built its foundation almost completely on PC-based search business, we’ll see where the conundrum comes from. And as mobile Internet picked up steam, the ensuing mobile ecosystem (be it iOS or Android camp) are mostly weaved by all kinds of apps which are totally out of Baidu spiders’ comfortable zone. An interesting theory from couple years ago had it that apps – just like isolated islands –are not up for search.
That’s why Baidu was an enthusiastic advocate of its in-housed developed Web App ecosystem, it pinned much hope on the scheme to circumvent the innate unsearchable nature of native apps and thus to relocate its successful desktop search business to the mobile end, the move sounds ambitious except that the results didn’t come out well.
One of the many causes of the less cheerful outcome is that web apps which are supposed to run within mobile browsers could be a big burden to smartphone’s lackluster computing power, so the experience is nothing comparable to native apps.
And at this year’s Baidu World conference, the annual showcase of Baidu’s new tricks, Robin Li, the company’s founder and CEO debuted a new move dubbed Light App that could be deemed as a small step forward from its previous Web App strategy. Baidu promised a seemingly well-balanced and enticing combination of native app experience and web app convenience for this Light App thing.
So what is Light App?
According to Li Mingyuan, Light App is characterized by 1) installation-free, just search and use; 2) Efficient and smart distribution; 3) Powerful and native-app like experience and 4) Notification pushes.
Simply put, Light App is just like WebApp. You can search and avail yourself of the benefits of using those apps without actually downloading anything.
After stuffing Light App into your mobile, you’ll be able to call out a bunch of 3rd party apps residing on Baidu’s Light App platform directly from within Light App. For example, you can command Light App to search for movie schedule without the need of searching and installing a dedicated app, you can ask Light App to show you around Shanghai without having to install a standalone travel app. From here, we can imagine Baidu Light App as an app store for third party apps. Just search and use whatever apps suffice your needs and you don’t have to install anything apart from the Light App per se.
Li Mingyuan went on to explained that there’re certain types of apps made for different needs, some are high frequency apps (reading, mail and so on) that consumers need all the time, while the others are low frequency apps that people are prone to forget and uninstall. The idea of Light App, is to save users from the hassles of installing everything, just avail yourself of Light App and it’ll take care of the rest.
Mr. Li also shared some interesting figures about Baidu mobile search as he said that Baidu’s mobile search traffic increased 16 times from 2010 to this year. Now there’re more than 130 million users search with Mobile Baidu every day.