Baidu Plans Search Services for TV, Phones and Handsets

BAIDU.COM Inc aims to let people use its search services through various kinds of new devices, including TVs, fixed-line phones, handsets and wireless networks, China’s biggest online search engine said today.

Baidu, seeking to be different from Google, aims to be an online community offering all kinds of new functions besides its core search advertising business, according to Piper Jaffray, a US-based investment bank.

Baidu, listed on Nasdaq, has penetrated into the WiMax search market within 25 Chinese cities such as Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen.

Shanghai Jiading District, which is working towards becoming a wireless zone, has disclosed that it is cooperating with Baidu to proceed with the development of a wireless search service.

Baidu will participate in the building and creation of applications for the wireless networks, which will also start in other cities such as Dongguan and Changde by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, Baidu has signed an agreement with China Netcom to provide search services and it also worked with China Telecom and China Unicom.

“We are not satisfied with providing search services only and we want to attend to the product and business model design with the partners,” Baidu vice president Shen Haoyu said.

On the home appliance market, Baidu has partnered with Qingdao Haier to produce a Web-linked TV with Baidu’s search pages and its logo physically emblazoned on the set.

Baidu, which occupies 70 percent of China’s online search market, cooperated with Nokia to put Baidu’s search as a built-in service in Nokia’s handset models since March 2006.

“We don’t expect a lot income contributed by the wireless sector and we don’t want to invest on it heavily,” Baidu founder and Chairman Robin Li said during a keynote speech in an investment forum in Shanghai today.

He said Baidu, however, was “closely watching the wireless market development now for the potential opportunities.”

Baidu also started the public test of instant message services last month.

The Beijing-based Baidu also plans to kick off online auctions and phone-based search services this year,

The new services aim to improve user loyalty and profitability of the company’s core search business, Li said.