Baidu Mobile app announced 400 million users, with 100 monthly active users, yesterday.
The Baidu Mobile has included all services the company offer, search, maps, music, video, mobile reading, news, Baike (a Wikipedia-like service), etc. The app streams videos through Baidu Video (a video aggregation and search service) and searches e-books across the Web and save them into your phone. It also has features like code scanner for price comparison.
Companies like Baidu and UC Web call apps like Baidu Mobile super app that hopes to meet all the needs of mobile Internet users so that they’d stick with their apps. But the search engine and Baidu’s own services/content cannot bring everything to users. One big problem is native apps that cannot be accessed directly in Baidu Mobile. That’s why Baidu and UC Web tried to have all developers convert their native apps into web apps — Baidu calls them Light Apps –which can be included in their apps and are more search friendly. Baidu Mobile app has included a web app store for users to consume apps or content without leaving the app.
The core feature with Baidu Moible, of course, is still search where most of Baidu’s revenues are from. Baidu believes they have made mobile search much easier-to-use through technologies and new functions like voice search. In Q2 2013, for the first time 10% of Baidu’s total revenues was from mobile. But the company saw a higher percentage of traffic that had shifted from PC to mobile.
Monetizing mobile searches is one thing, mobile search in general is another problem Baidu has. It is recognized that currently searches on mobile devices are for apps or content. That’s why Baidu spent $18.5 billion acquiring 91 Wireless, one of the biggest app distributors in China. With the combination of 91 Wireless and web app platform, Baidu hopes to maintain its leading position in China mobile search market.
Chinese players who want to challenge Baidu’s dominance in China’s search market, including Qihoo and Sogou, believe that mobile search and monetizing it will be very different from that on PC, and there stands a chance to pull Baidu down in the mobile world. Sogou has been working on a recommendation engine. Qihoo CEO believes his company has been well positioned in app distribution and searches for apps/content with 360 Mobile Assistant, a mobile app management tool where users can also search for and download apps. He said last week on the Q3 2013 earnings conference call that Qihoo would soon launch a new mobile search product that would be different from traditional search service.
Baidu said at yesterday’s announcement event that for mobile search next they’d be focused on location-based search and user interests-based services.