| BEIJING, Sept 3
BEIJING, Sept 3 Baidu Inc launched on
Wednesday a service that helps retailers advertise on the
smartphones of nearby users as China's dominant search engine
company expands its location-based technology to drive growth.
Baidu currently makes most of its income from desktop-based
search advertising and has lagged peers such as Tencent Holdings
Ltd in capitalising on the popularity of mobile
internet in China, the world's largest market for smartphones.
It sees real-time, location-based technology as a way to
boost advertising revenues from the rise of e-commerce in China,
where government data shows more people now access the internet
via a mobile device than a personal computer.
"In the mobile era consumer behavior is changing, and the
mobile Internet has given us new businesses and opportunities,"
said Robin Li, Baidu's chief executive, during the launch of the
Baidu Connect service.
The service offers toolkits for merchants and software
developers to build online-to-offline (O2O) applications, which
seek to attract potential customers to nearby shops and
restaurants via promotions and ads displayed on smartphones.
Baidu also said it had recently bought a $10 million
minority stake in IndoorAtlas, a company that offers a special
technology that allows smartphone users' positions to be tracked
inside buildings, which is often difficult due to the metal used
Baidu's push into location-based services and O2O puts it
increasingly at odds with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd
, China's biggest e-commerce company, and Tencent.
Last week, Baidu announced a 5 billion yuan ($813 million)
tie-up with Beijing-based conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group and
Tencent to provide O2O services inside Wanda's commercial
Like other tech firms, Baidu is also branching out into
wearables. On Wednesday, it demonstrated its Baidu Eye, which
uses a camera to scan objects and then synchs with a smartphone.
($1 = 6.1480 Chinese yuan)
(Editing by Miral Fahmy)