* Baidu launches mobile browser to compete with UCWeb,
* Baidu's mobile browser highlights shift to mobile, cloud
* Baidu's monetization of mobile is medium-term concern -
BEIJING, Sept 3 China's dominant search engine
Baidu Inc rolled out a mobile browser on Monday to help
secure its share in a mobile Internet market that surpasses the
U.S. population in size and to fend off smaller rivals such as
Qihoo 360 Technology Co.
In China, the number of users who access the Internet from
mobile phones has risen to 388 million, according to a
government report in July, outstripping the number of users who
access it from a desktop computer for the first time.
The Baidu Mobile Browser, which will compete with UCWeb
Inc's UC Browser, Google Inc's Chrome and default
Android browser, and Apple Inc's Safari, is about 20
percent faster than its rivals based on internal tests, Li
Mingyuan, Baidu's general manager of mobile and cloud computing,
told reporters on Friday at a pre-launch briefing.
Baidu's mobile browser also allows users to access a
plethora of web-based mobile applications (apps) and run
high-definition video through the browser without having to
download apps or supporting software.
The browser, together with Baidu's other mobile products
such as its mobile operating system and cheap smartphones
launched with partners, forms the core of what Baidu hopes will
eventually become a source of revenue.
"Monetizing mobile is hugely important for Baidu," said
Michael Clendenin, managing director of RedTech Advisors, who
added that the drive to monetize would be a medium-term concern
for Baidu as its advertising clients still need to create
The shift to mobile could pose problems for Baidu if it
can't find a way to make money from search traffic. Baidu
currently makes the bulk of its revenue from users searching
from laptops and desktops.
Baidu's goal is for 80 percent of China's Android handsets
to have downloaded the Baidu Mobile Browser by the end of 2012,
The Baidu Mobile Browser also comes as Baidu is fending off
threats on its home turf. Anti-virus software firm Qihoo 360
Technology's entry last month into search caused
Baidu's shares to tumble 17 percent to date.
Baidu is also moving into cloud computing, a term used to
describe data storage or processing on the Web.
Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Li said on Monday the firm
will invest more than 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) to set up
its cloud computing centre.