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Chinese internet giant Baidu is ramping up its AI efforts


Global Quarterly AI Funding

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Chinese internet search giant Baidu tipped its new focus on mobile and artificial intelligence (AI) as the primary drivers behind a 14% year-over-year (YoY) growth in revenue during Q2 2017, reaching 21 billion yuan ($3 billion).

The company recently began a restructuring of its resources, diverting them from less profitable ventures into those with potential, such as AI, big data, cloud, and video services, according to VentureBeat. The strong revenue growth could be an indication that these initiatives have started to gain traction. For instance, mobile revenue, which covers ads, video, games, and other services, accounts for 72% of total revenue during the quarter, up 10 percentage points from Q2 2016. 

Over the past year, the company has pushed its AI ambitions through acquisitions, partnerships, and device launches, as it strives to emerge to as a leader in the burgeoning industry

  • Baidu acquired Kitt.ai, an NLP startup, to strengthen Baidu’s voice ecosystem. Kitt.ai has built out a framework to create and drive voice-based apps and chatbots across multiple platforms and devices. This can help secure a place for Baidu’s DuerOS as a platform aimed for developers looking to utilize chatbots and services based on NLP technology.
  • Baidu partnered with NVIDIA to accelerate AI development. The partnership will help to bring AI technology to cloud computing, self-driving vehicles, and AI home assistants. The partnership will bring the next-generation NVIDIA Volta GPUs to Baidu’s cloud.
  • Baidu could be poised to release a smart speaker device. Last fall, Bloomberg reported that the company made large investments in AI to prepare to launch such a device. Additionally, the company last month hired former Microsoft exec and AI expert Qi Lu as its COO, and purchased the AI-based personal assistant platform provider Raven Tech.

Baidu’s not alone in its AI endeavors, as rival Chinese tech companies Tencent and Alibaba forge ahead with their own initiatives in the space. For instance, Tencent released an AI-infused voice assistant in May, and Alibaba has already launched AI and cloud services for the health care and manufacturing industries.

Moreover, Baidu’s efforts come alongside a concerted push by the Chinese government as the country wagers to become a global leader in AI by 2030. Getting in on the ground floor of AI investment could allow Baidu to reap the benefits as the market value balloons in the near- to mid-term. 

Jessica Smith, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on the voice assistant landscape that:

  • Identifies the major changes in technology and user behavior that have created the voice assistant market that exists today. 
  • Presents the major players in today's market and discusses their major weaknesses and strengths. 
  • Explores the impact this nascent market poses to other key digital industries. 
  • Identifies the major hurdles that need to be overcome before intelligent voice assistants will see mass adoption. 

To get the full report, subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. »Learn More Now

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