Robin Li on Chinese Mobile usage pattern

In the ongoing Web 2.0 summit, Robin Li the CEO and co-founder of Baidu – the leading search engine in chinese market with a market share of 99% had a chat with the host. He had some views about chinese mobile phone culture. Read on interesting… Robin: China has around 800 million mobile phone users. John: Let’s talk about mobile. How is that developing in China, and if you ran a mobile app start up, what would be the things you should know. Robin: There are about 800 million mobile phones but large portion of them aren’t internet enabled, maybe 150 million. But there’s a catch. Most of them use 2G phones to go on the internet, which means it’s slow and expensive, carriers charge by number of bytes. Most high-end people who use them don’t care about the cost. Vast majority of Chinese people are low income, can’t afford a PC, nannies or migrant workers, at night they lie back and go on the internet. It’ll change as the mobile network grows, user behavior will grow, and product will change, but we don’t know yet what the killer app will be. The status is not really stable. We don’t even know what the most poular device to go online 3 years down the line. John: Could Baidu provide it, like Google does with Android. Robin: Our box idea is that something that boots up within one second and you get a box that lets you do whatever you want to do. It replaces the operating system. you can search, find apps, publish your tweets. The box is intelligent enough to understand. John: How do you execute that vision? Robin: One key part is to understand intention. People put all types of queries into their search box, so they know for certain user needs, like weather, there are probably 200 different needs to express the same meaning. So we can better understand intention, and once we have it, it’s easier to deliver it.

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