Chinese search engine Baidu Inc yesterday launched two services for mobile users, in an effort to gain an edge and market share in the world's largest mobile market.
Baidu launched its client software that combines search and other functions it offers on the PC Internet. With this software, mobile users can access search services much faster than WAP browsers, Baidu said.
The company has also come out with a new mobile software input method. Baidu had earlier acquired Shanghai-based DayHand Networks Co Ltd, a mobile software company. DayHand is the developer of the input method.
"Input method may not be a profit-generator, but users tend to have high loyalty to software of this kind, and companies are able to segmentalise customers better," said Fang Li, an analyst with research firm Analysys International.
Earlier this month, Baidu's major rival Google launched a Chinese-language voice search service, which can help Chinese users use Google's existing search services via mobile phones. Google said it expects its mobile search business to surpass the PC-based Internet search business.
"Google has two main mobile services, Web search and Google Maps. It is trying to improve its brand recognition among users by perfecting its main services," said Fang.
"Baidu, as a home-grown company, has already made its mark and is now focusing on diversified mobile services," Fang said. "That's why it has come out with its own input method."
Baidu said it was going to continue its cooperation with telecom carriers and other players.
Last month Baidu signed a partnership with China Unicom to provide wireless search for the carrier's 3G mobile subscribers.
According to Analysys International, Google is still lagging market leader Baidu, which had 63.9 percent of the search market share during the third quarter of this year. But in China's mobile search market, Google's share reached 26.6 percent in the second quarter of this year, higher than Baidu's 26 percent.
Mobile Internet users in the country reached 192 million by the end of September this year, an increase of 62.7 percent year-on-year, and the number of computer-based Internet users grew to 360 million during the same period, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.