In an internal e-mail sent to Baidu employees last week, its CEO Robin Li announced a new business unit for consumer-facing paid services thus becoming the fifth of Baidu’s. The other four are focused on search, location-based services, mobile Cloud and international businesses (in Chinese).

Robin Li said at its annual event last month that the gaming-centered paid Internet services make up “a huge market” (in Chinese). Baidu Games started as an online games search engine but changed to become an online games platform in 2008 that shared revenues from users with selected third-party games providers. In 2010 the platform and revenue-sharing program opened up to all third-party providers. Now it has had over a hundred titles on the platform and claimed it had reached 100 million users. But the revenue generated there is unknown.

Other consumer-facing paid services Baidu is operating include  Baidu Music premium subscriptions and paid services on iQiyi, the online video business wholly owned by Baidu. But it is estimated that either can’t bring the company big money in the near future. Baidu didn’t offer paid music services, higher-quality tunes or downloads, until the beginning of 2013 due to alleged pressure from the music industry. iQiyi also offers a subscription-based premium service which accounts for 2% of its total revenues (in Chinese) — but even its total revenue is minor to Baidu. Plus both digital music and online video are cost-intensive businesses.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com