Chinese search engine Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU - News) slowly started rolling out its cloud services - along the lines of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and the Google App Engine - last year. And now the company’s VP of engineering, Wang Jing, says that its Baidu Cloud applications engine can save startups a lot of money, and the revenue sharing from its developer platform gave “more than 100 million in shared-revenue” to app devs in 2011 - and he expects “this figure to at least triple” to 300 million RMB (US$47.51 million) by the end of 2012.
That stat was posted today on the official Baidu Beat blog in English. The post goes on to claim that developers who use its app engine can lower their app “development costs by 30 percent, and shorten the development period by 40 percent.” It gives the example of the locally-made photo-editing app Meitu XiuXiu, which made the switch to paying for Baidu’s enterprise cloud program to power its app. As a part of the deal, the app now gives its users free cloud storage on the new Baidu Wangpan, the Dropbox-esque consumer-grade file backup offering from the Beijing-based company.
All in all, Baidu says its cloud engine and developer platform now has 80,000 mobile apps on board from 60,000 devs. Citing the same 91Mobile report on China’s app-etite for mobile downloads that we looked at yesterday, Baidu points out that the top 100 ranking apps already make up for 48 percent of total user downloads - which leaves hundreds of thousands of app devs scrapping for the remaining space on the nation’s smartphones. And so, the PR spin implies, Baidu Cloud can give a startup the kind of boost - in terms of support, lower costs, and greater potential exposure - that can help it compete. One final alarming stat is that:
The cost of acquiring one non-paying app user has gone up to 1.4 RMB [$0.22], leading many developers in the China market to see the mobile app’s industry as a game for the wealthy.
That bodes ill for indie app makers in the face of China’s many web giants who like to have their fingers in as many pies as possible, such as Netease, Sina, Tencent, Alibaba, and… er… Baidu too.
Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN - News), for its part, is fighting back in Asia against such new competition from Baidu, making the case for its AWS being the engine that should be powering startup’s apps, allowing them to scale up - or down - their server needs in a flexible and affordable way. We even recently saw the startup MadeiraCloud, which allows users to map out their AWS architecture in a visual manner. Amazon’s AWS is available and accessible in China, in contrast to the situation with many other foreign web services.
But Baidu won’t have things its own way among Chinese services, with strong competition from Shanda (NASDAQ:SNDA; FRA:RZP), makers of the Bambook e-reader, with its Cloudary platform.
Baidu itself has been pushing its consumer-level cloud services a lot in the past six months, when its own Android-based mobile OS was launched and came with all its social apps and utilities bundled together. This was followed just last week with its budget smartphone that added cloud-powered voice controls.
If you read Chinese, the Baidu Developer platform homepage can be found here.