Chinese search engine Baidu has revealed today that its Personal Cloud Service (PCS) product, which includes NetDrive, has passed 30 million registered users. As a result, the firm now expects to hit the grand old milestone of 100 million users by the end of the year.
Baidu’s mobile input method editor (IME) for pinyin has also seen significant growth, reaching 100 million users overall. The number of people using Baidu Maps, the firm’s respective mapping service similar to Google Maps, meanwhile, has passed 77 million, with the company expecting to hit 100 million by the end of the first quarter in 2013.
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In a press release issued today, the company also announced that Baidu’s mobile Internet browser “is now among the top three domestic mobile browsers” with around 30 million users overall.
PCS is a cloud-based service that allows Baidu users to store, synchronize and share data across multiple devices including smartphones, tablets and desktop PCs. Launched in July last year, Baidu claims that the service has grown “faster than all competing services in China” and that by the end of the year, they expect to have added 70 million new users.
NetDrive, known locally as Wangpan, works in a similar way to many other cloud-based storage solutions aimed at the average consumer, such as Dropbox and SugarSync. All users are given 5GB of free storage, although just like Dropbox, additional capacity can be earned by completing social tasks, such as inviting friends to use the product, or sharing a link to NetDrive on a social network or their blog. PCS as a whole adds contact list management, photo album, and a note product.
Lin Shiding, chief architect on PCS for Baidu, said the service would soon be expanded to include the firm’s other products, such as Baidu music and Baidu Library, or ‘Wenku’, as well as basic text messaging.
Apps such as Meituxiuxiu, a simple photo editing suite, ThinkerNote (or ‘Qingbiji’), a note-taking app and Yinyuetai, a music streaming service, can already be used to synchronize and organize data through PCS. Shiding also confirmed today that they would be connecting more third-party apps with PCS soon.
Rumours of a cloud-based storage system built by Baidu surfaced in May last year, and there was much anticipation about how it would work with its Android-based operating system, Yi. Later that month, it was discovered that anyone who bought a smartphone built by the search giant, and that was also running Baidu’s cloud-centric operating system, would be entitled to 100GB of storage via NetDrive.
Baidu is placing its focus increasingly on mobile as a response to the growth in phone-based Internet usage in China. Last October, the search giant announced that it would be directing a quarter of its research and development budget into mobile, presumably to help develop products such as NetDrive. It’s a strategy that seems to be paying off for them, at least for now.
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