Baidu Has Its Head in the Clouds
China's leading search engine has it easy.
All that Baidu (NAS: BIDU) has to do is see what's working with its Western peers and copy it.
The dot-com darling is hosting a developers' conference this morning to introduce Baidu WangPan, according to PaidContent.org. Just as Dropbox is all the rage stateside with its cloud storage of files that can be accessed anywhere that a Web connection is possible, WangPan has the potential to catch on quickly.
It's also free, at least for the first meaty 15 gigabytes of storage.
More importantly it keeps Baidu -- which already commands 78% of China's search market -- on top. Once someone leans on WangPan to make text documents, snapshots, and other media files portable, they'll be hard pressed to stop using Baidu.
How successful WangPan will be in a country that is already pretty wary of the freedoms being granted in cyberspace remains to be seen. Over on the social networking side, Renren (NYS: RENN) and SINA's (NAS: SINA) Weibo are already coping with government requirements for users to be authenticated. Transferring chunky files isn't the catalyst for a revolution, but sometimes it's hard to tell where China will land on some of these things.
Baidu isn't just phoning it in. When something works, it throws its weight behind it. Baidu inked a deal earlier this week with DigitalGlobal (NYS: DGI) for high-resolution imagery of 344 Chinese cities for its mapping platform.
However, Baidu is also willing to cut loose what either isn't working or may be more trouble than it's worth.
Baidu shuttered Baidu Shuoba -- or Baidu Talk -- last summer after realizing that its shot at the micro-blogging market was being better served by Weibo.
WangPan should last longer than the yearlong Baidu Shouba experiment. Even if most of China's citizenry doesn't own multiple Web-surfing devices, the ability to access the same files from any Internet source is an easy sell -- especially when it's free.
Bullish on Baidu
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At the time this article was published Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Baidu and SINA. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.