Chinese search engine Baidu purchases mobile app distributor for $1.09 billion

By Jonathan Espinosa Comment

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China’s most popular search engine, Baidu, has purchased mobile app distributor 91 Wireless for $1.09 billion as reported by CIO Today. Baidu has said it would purchase 57 percent of 91 Wireless Websoft Ltd. The companies have until August 13 to agree to terms on the transaction.

91 Wireless operates 91 Assistant and HiMarket, two smartphone app distribution platforms in China. It has said that these markets have been used to download more than 10 billion apps making it China’s biggest third-party app distributor by both active users and downloads.

The purchase of 91 Wireless shows its efforts at better establishing itself  in mobile search, where it has lost traction to other competitors. This is second acquisition for Baidu in the recent months, purchasing Internet video service PPS Net for $370 million in May. These moves show the company is striving to venture past search to match competitors moves. For example, rival search service Alibaba purchased an 18 percent stake in Weibo, a microblogging Service in China similar to Twitter.

The mobile market in China was predicted to surpass the US market by Q1 2013 last November. In February, this prediction rang true. With the purchase of 91 Wireless, Baidu is looking to become the starting page page for all mobile devices in China. At the price of $1.09 billion for only 57 percent of the company, it also shows that it is willing to spend a pretty penny to make that possible.