Baidu Tests Web Browser as China Search Leader Expands Range

Baidu Inc., China’s biggest Internet company by market value, rose to a record in Nasdaq trading as the country’s leading search engine said it has developed a Web browser for personal computers.

The desktop browser is being tested internally among employees at present, Baidu spokesman Kaiser Kuo said in an interview today. The new service “dovetails” with the company’s “box-computing” technology, he said, without disclosing when it will be offered to the public.

The browser may put Baidu in direct competition with Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer and Google Inc.’s Chrome. Chief Executive Officer Robin Li is expanding Baidu in social-networking and online videos after the Beijing-based company took search-engine market share from Google in China, the world’s biggest online market.

Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. has held talks with Baidu about an operating system for mobile phones, according to Sanjay Jha, chief executive officer at the Libertyville, Illinois-based company. Kuo today declined to comment on Baidu’s plans for an operating system, saying the company doesn’t discuss the development of products that haven’t been introduced.

Baidu rose $1.45, or 1.1 percent, to $134.92 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading, the highest level since trading began in August 2005. The stock has surged 40 percent in U.S. trading this year.

Box Computing

This week, Baidu’s Kuo neither confirmed or denied a March 23 Financial Times report saying the company is planning to develop a “light operating system,” after the newspaper’s interview with CEO Li. The executive didn’t specifically tell FT that the company will develop an operating system for mobile devices, and he focused only on Baidu’s “box-computing” technology, Kuo said on March 23.

Baidu’s vision is to “obviate” operating systems so that the customer interface on any device, be it a personal computer, notebook, tablet or smartphone, is a simple, yet powerful search box using conversational language, Kuo said. Baidu has said it intends to develop its box-computing service to link the provision of content including books, video games and other entertainment, to online searches.

Baidu accounted for 75.5 percent of China’s search-engine market by revenue in the fourth quarter, rising from 73 percent in the previous three months, according to research company Analysys International. Google’s share dropped to 19.6 percent from 21.6 percent, the research firm said.