THE CHINESE SEARCH ENGINE Baidu has released version 1.2 of its browser beta - dubbed Baidu Browser - and has added some chrome-like features that, it hopes, will not only increase its huge market share, but might also lay down the foundation for a future PC strategy.
The latest iteration of the web browser has added a 'web apps' feature, in a way very familiar to Chrome users. Baidu claims you have access to over 30,000 apps through its browser and this can just be clicked-on to access.
The apps are in fact hosted in a cloud, not downloaded to your PC and are not just add-ons for your browser but full-blown productivity, entertainment, gaming and system tool apps.
The web browser is now looking increasingly more like Chrome OS than a simple browser, which would fit the bill for a future attempt to market cheap "closed" Baidu boxes, similar to Chromebooks.
Unfortunately, until Baidu Browser leaves Beta status, there are no official usage numbers. However, Baidu represents around three-fourths of search engine usage in China and it is ranked as the third largest search engine on the planet, according to Netmarketshare, having steadily risen during the course of this year. Baidu, as a search engine, is bigger than Bing.
The fact that Baidu is almost exclusively used in China yet snaps up almost five percent of the worldwide search engine market just shows how big it really is. Baidu's mimicking of Google's every move and leveraging with the aid of the language barrier proves that home-grown product in China will beat the competition, so Microsoft might need to think a bit harder about the future of Internet Explorer in China.
The Chinese search engine outfit has not announced a final release date for its browser, but just like Google with Chrome, we're sure it'll feature prominently on the Baidu.com landing page. µ
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