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Baidu's new search engine concept more 'marketing than breakthrough'
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08:01, August 20, 2009

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China's search engine giant Baidu's newly-unveiled search concept the "box computing", failed to convince some of the country's information technology experts Wednesday, as they saw "no significant technical upgrade".

Baidu's CEO Li Yanhong introduced the "box computing" concept at Monday's Baidu Innovation Conference 2009.

"In coming days, you could find simply a box at the interface of your personal computer or any terminals. Input what you want to do, and then it responds," Li said.

For instance, a man who seeks to find a date through the online dating service would only have to type in keywords "single girl" in the box, and the search engine find out what he really wants instead of just text web pages containing the keywords.

The Beijing-based search company Baidu hopes the "box computing" could provide one-stop online service by intelligently identifying clients' demands before giving optimized treatments and responses.

However, Li Xiaodong, deputy director of China Internet Information Center (CNNIC), a government-funded web research organization, said Wednesday that the box calculation was not a new idea and had already been put into application by many search companies.

"In fact, all the search companies are doing pretty much the same thing -- to optimize its search capability and offer more easy-to-get results for their clients," said Li.

Lu Bowang, Internet analyst with China IntelliConsulting Corp, said the "box computing" is only Baidu's move to chase after its competitor Google by combining its current services and future plans.

"'Box computing' is more of a market strategy than a technical revolution," said Lu.

Baidu's box computing is apt to remind people of its controversial paid listing model in which the promotion fee could lift the clients' public information further up the search list.

Li Guozhu, an IT commentator, said, "the provision of optimized results collide with Baidu's paid listing model of making profits, thus posing challenges to Baidu's development."

Ma Weiying, deputy director of Microsoft Research Asia, told Xinhua that he is not so clear about Baidu's new concept. Zhao Wei, corporate communication manager of Google China also declined comments.

But the "box computing still has its own fans.

Liu Xingliang, analyst of Internet Laboratory, one China's Internet NGOs, said in his blog about the "box computing's" service: "Input 'KFC', and the engine can know whether I want to eat or set up a KFC branch. It points to KFC, or MacDonald's or simply a local restaurant."

"At least, 'box computing' signals the progress in Internet service mode. It gives more solutions to clients' personal demands," he said.


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