Baidu zooms in on mobile

Chinese search giant says mobile channel increasingly important, with plans to monetize mobile search traffic and expand its Baidu Yi mobile OS to more devices.

Chinese Internet search giant Baidu is tapping mobile as an increasingly important and lucrative channel for it to monetize search traffic, expand the reach of its Baidu Yi mobile OS, and grow the company's business overseas.

Baidu CEO Robin Li, was reported by Reuters Friday, to have said at an earnings conference call: "We do think mobile will become a very important channel to distribute our products and that has increasingly become true over the past quarter. And we think during the coming year, mobile will represent an ever larger percentage of our total traffic."

He added that Baidu in the past did not spend any resources to monetize mobile search traffic. "But starting from this year, we will do something to figure out how to better serve our customers on our mobile platform."

The company posted a profit of 2.054 billion yuan (US$326.3 million), in the fourth quarter of 2011, registering a year-on-year 76.9 percent increase. Full-year 2011 earnings jumped 88.3 percent from the year before to hit 6.639 billion yuan (US$1.055 billion).

Last September, Baidu announced a partnership with United States hardware company Dell to develop handsets and tablets powered by its own Baidu Yi mobile operating system. The Dell Streak Pro smartphone was later launched in China in December.

According to Reuters, Li said Baidu was looking to work with more smartphone vendors to expand the reach of its Linux-based Yi mobile platform.

Li also revealed that the company was aiming to increase its push into social media as well as internationalize its business beyond the domestic Chinese market.

Last month, Beijing-based Baidu broke ground on a new office building in Shenzhen that will focus on international and mobile Web operations.