Baidu, owner of the mainland's most-used search engine, has released an internet browser for mobile devices running Google's Android system that allows users to play Web games and watch videos without using a media player.
The Baidu Explorer was announced by Li Mingyuan, general manager of the company's mobile and cloud computing division, at its annual developer conference in Beijing yesterday. The program was about 20 per cent faster, on average, than previously available mobile browsers, he said.
Li hopes the software will help make the company the gateway for mainlanders to access the internet on handsets, as it is for desktop users.
Baidu overcame competition from Google to win almost 80 per cent of the nation's search-engine market by sales. Now, its core business is under threat from Qihoo 360 Technology, maker of the most-used browser, which started its own search engine last month.
In the second quarter, Baidu held 78.6 per cent of the mainland search-engine market by revenue, compared with 15.7 per cent for Google, according to estimates by researcher Analysys International in Beijing.
Having control of the browser would help Baidu drive more traffic through its own search engine, while also offering more control over the quality of the user experience, Li said.
There are now about 100,000 Web applications that can be run through the mobile browser without installing additional software, allowing users greater choice of programs without consuming memory on the handset, according to Baidu.
The browser can be downloaded in English and Chinese. It is compatible with Android 2.2 and higher versions, and not currently available for Apple's iOS system used on the iPhone.