A Baidu ad in Xiamen, Fujian province. (File photo/CFP)
The rapid rise in demand for mobile internet services in China poses new challenges and opportunities for technology companies, according to Baidu CEO Robin Li. The founder of the nation's leading internet search engine cited the unforeseen effects of the shift away from slow and bulky desktop computers as a major cause of industry change.
When search engines first began scouring the internet for keywords in the late 1990s, most users would wait several seconds for results to be returned. Li has noted that the current delay for mobile search engines is roughly the same, with the average result taking 2.4 seconds. He went on to note that super-fast network speeds have led users to become impatient, often wondering if there is a problem when results take more than one second.
Mobile search platforms are a huge growth market as long as the company can handle consumers' expectations. Innovation is at the core of the technology industry and gives an advantage to get beyond ones competitors, Li said at the company's annual conference.
The company began addressing performance issues for mobile users during the second half of last year, while working on voice and graphic technology development, said Li.
Baidu's voice-assisted technology had a late start in the industry but has begun to surpass the competition in both its accuracy and popularity with users. The company also launched an image search product similar to services provided by Google and Apple, with Baidu's accuracy rate rising from 20% to 80% since the program began.
The company built its first research center — the Institute of Deep Learning — in 2013 to attract more experts to jointly develop products, said Li. Mobile browsing's full impact is yet to be felt by the industry, but it creates a huge opportunity for companies which are prepared for its developments, said Li, adding that many more avenues have yet to be explored.
Robin Li Yanhong 李彥宏