China’s largest search engine Baidu reported its last quarter’s results to some mixed reviews: Its revenue growth increased, but its profit lagged as it faces the expenses of growing its mobile business. And indeed, the company has doled out the cash over the past year to be a part of the mobile scene.
$1.9 billion later, the search engine acquired the application distribution platform 91 Wireless. The platform gives Baidu access to the market share of its 10 billion apps — a draw for future customers of Baidu as the search engine looks for lures for new users of its mobile browser. It partnered with France Telecom to bring its browser — initially designed just for Chinese smartphone users — to the AMEA markets. Among these and other efforts, Baidu is feeling the strain of just how much it costs to launch its PC-based business into the global mobile one, but it’s not without company.
Baidu’s expensive efforts reflect the struggle many large PC-based companies are having. The challenge to gain mobile ground for some entrenched tech companies in China mirrors the worldwide challenge for some in other markets as well. U.S.’s Intel has been experiencing the classic problem of bringing its PC business to mobile, and has explored several avenues to do so including recently revealing smaller, more powerful chips. Partnering with Baidu earlier this year was one of its strategies as the two collaborated to create a lab in which they focus on developing mobile software for China’s market. Finland’s Nokia is Europe’s example of a company that actually used to be on top of the mobile scene, but has since struggled to keep up with handset competitors. (Although Nokia recently reported decent smartphone sales despite analyst opinions that it was a mistake to build its Lumia smartphone line on Microsoft’s new mobile operating system.) And Canada’s BlackBerry is the obvious example of a once-top mobile company sunk pitifully in the face of global competition.
Even with its mobile expenses, reports have detailed Baidu’s ventures into wearable technology with recent software published for smartwatches that will run Baidu Cloud. Of course, wearable tech is still in its infancy unlike the mobile industry, so perhaps the company will have more of a leg up in this market. Regardless, it won’t be cheap.