Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Baidu.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:BIDU) gets aggressive on mobile

Chinese Internet search major Baidu.com, Inc. (ADR)(NASDAQ:BIDU) is taking steps to remain relevant in these days of rapid mobile penetration, even as investors worry about the company' ability to monetise its mobile business.

The company is facing the heat of competition from newer entrants such as Qihoo 360 and Tencent Holdings and the result of that has been seen in its stock price which has fallen by nearly a fifth in the last quarter.

Baidu's director of international communications, Kaiser Kuo, said the company is on target to reach its goal of having Baidu’s new browser installed in 80 percent of Android smartphones in China by the end of this year.

China is, of course, the world's largest market for smartphones and anyone who wants to survive in that country has to factor in mobile as a necessary way to transact and communicate on.

Last week the company had said that it was raising about $1.5 billion to build up its war chest and use a portion of the funds to acquire companies in China and overseas.

Baidu is currently pouring 25% of its research and development budget into mobile and cloud computing (it has announced plans to invest US$1.6 billion in a new cloud-computing centre). It now counts over 100,000 developers in its mobile ecosystem.

The goal is to build a smartphone ecosystem that will allow users to “seamlessly migrate from PC to mobile,” said Kuo.

Kuo however made it clear that while the company was focussed on building up its mobile capabilities; it was not ignoring personal computers either.

“There has been a lot of reporting that we’re only looking at mobile things and that’s just not true,” he said. “We want to be at different points of access. We will be interested in any M&A activity that helps drive Baidu dominance at various access points to the Internet.”

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