$1.9 billion. It’d be, so far, the most expensive deal in China’s Internet history if Baidu successfully bought 91 Wireless (Update: Baidu finally paid $1.85 billion.). So who’s 91? Why 91?

91 started as iPhone PC Suite, an iPhone software managing tool. The developer, Xiong Jun, sold it to NetDragon for 100 thousand yuan in 2008, not long after its launch. Xiong developed 91 Assistant after joining NetDragon. Later in 2010 he left it to found Tongbu, an iOS software & content manager backed by Innovation Works.

91 Assistant got much traction as Chinese users with jailbroken iPhones could download paid apps from it for free. It reportedly had three million users in early 2010 that accounted for over 90% of jailbroken iPhones in China.

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Tracey Xiang

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