Baidu Planning Mobile Operating System?

Remarks by Baidu’s Robin Li to the Financial Times have prompted speculation that the company is preparing to launch its own mobile operating system:

“In order for an operating system to work, it needs to [do a lot of processing], but if we make it just about a search box, then the task will be much simpler.

“Right now when you power on an iPhone, it takes 45 seconds before you can do anything. In the future, one second, you turn on the device, and you can start using the box. That’s our mission for the future of the internet,” he said ….

Mr Li has long said he wanted to transform the search box, the frame where internet users can enter the phrase they want to search for, into a universal computing tool that could replace all other interfaces. “The goal is to let people become increasingly dependent on the Baidu box,” he said.

Lee Kaifu, former head of Google China, expressed scepticism about Baidu’s ability to outdo Apple based on Google’s experience with Android, upon which the new OS may be based. According to Businessweek, however, Baidu remains tight-lipped about the form the “box-computing” vision will eventually take.

Kaiser Kuo, a spokesman at the Beijing-based company, declined to confirm or deny that report. What Li discussed was the company’s vision for “box computing,” which was first revealed almost two years ago, Kuo said.

“Robin did not specifically say that Baidu is developing an operating system for mobiles,” said Kuo, who refused to comment on whether the company is actually doing so. “Box computing has been the long-term vision of the company since July 2009.”

The company’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.


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