BAIDU, China's largest search engine operator, is boosting its cloud computing service in an effort to maintain its dominance of the mobile Internet sector.
At its annual technology innovation conference in Beijing last week, Baidu said it will start to offer data storage and processing on the web instead of on actual servers to web-based application developers free of charge.
The company will allow outsiders to include its own module, including applications like map software, on their products to help them build based on Baidu's existing service.
Market watchers said the offer could benefit smaller developers who have limited resources.
The search engine remains the most popular feature for Internet users in China. However, an increasing number of smartphone users are accessing the Internet through mobile phone applications to read news and exchange information with friends.
Baidu Chief Executive Officer Robin Li said queries from smartphone applications at the search site surged 10-fold in the past year.
However, mobile-based services comprise so little of Baidu's income at present that they aren't broken out in the company's quarterly earnings.
The value of China's mobile Internet market is expected to reach 73.8 billion yuan (US$11.6 billion) by the end of this year, with advertising income of 5.7 billion yuan, nearly double a year ago, according to a research report by Data Center of China Internet.
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