The Future of the Web According to Baidu

robin liAs the web rapidly moves toward real-time information, the future of the web is box computing, in which you can power up a netbook or mobile phone and immediately pull up a search box without opening a browser or waiting for your operating system to boot up, according to Baidu founder and CEO, Robin Li. And China’s largest search engine is developing such a product, Li said during a talk he gave Wednesday at Stanford University.

It will look similar to the main Baidu.com search page today, except that it will be ready to use as soon as you turn on your laptop or phone.  The purpose of the box is to fulfill users’ web needs in one box. It doesn’t have to be used solely for search, so it will do more than just connect people to web page links that match their search terms. Li said the product will also be able to tap into social networks, enabling users to, say, send tweets on Twitter, and will even let them check their email.

Last week, the Wall Street Journal likened Baidu’s box computing initiative to Google’s Chrome OS, a comparison with which Li agreed. Yet when we asked Li today whether Baidu was developing a Chrome OS-like product, he said no. It’s unclear whether box computing is Baidu’s answer to Google’s upcoming operating system and Li didn’t specify when we can expect the product. The company unveiled its box computing concept in China this August, and according to local news sites, it wasn’t received favorably.

Li launched the Baidu search engine in 2001; Baidu.com has gone on to become the largest Chinese search engine, capturing over 70 percent of market share in the region. Google, by comparison, has struggled to gain a foothold in the world’s largest Internet market, primarily because of its sparring with the Chinese government over data censorship. And earlier this month, the president of Google’s operations in China, Kai-Fu Lee, said he was leaving the company to start his own venture.

Baidu launched a search engine in Japan in 2008, but Li said today that the company is “not ready to get into the U.S. or English search market.”

Image courtesy of Baidu

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