Dominant Chinese search engine Baidu.com (BIDU) has announced it is offering public tests of its new voice-activated search.
Local media reports the new service will be available to both fixed phone and mobile phone users. Users call 400 666 8585 to reach Baidu’s engineer, and the engineer will offer them a search result based on their request. That search result can be provided based on voice or sent to users’ mobile phone via SMS as an alternative.
This should be helpful to people who have limited knowledge in using search engines or visual deficiencies. And with a booming telecoms industry in China, Baidu can reach a wider segment in the Chinese market.
As of January 2008, there are 920 million telephone users in China, of which over 500 million are mobile phones. On the other hand, there were 163 million broadband users and 50.4 million wireless users in China by the end of 2007. So the launch of the new service is expected to help Baidu penetrate over 1 billion users and increase the influence of its online search activities.
The fee for Baidu’s new voice service is reported to be RMB1 per minute, which might be too expensive and may initially limit the development of the service. At present, Baidu is offering a RMB5 service fee to new users who apply for the service.