BEIJING: Baidu, the Chinese online giant, has signed a deal with BMW, the automaker, which will see the companies work together to develop search engine technology adapted for use in cars.
Under the terms of the tie-up, the two organisations plan to utilise the in-vehicle information systems already created by BMW as a starting point to making further progress in the Chinese market.
An existing example of BMW's activity in this area is Connected Drive, offering access to web content like weather forecasts and geo-location services, alongside emergency breakdown assistance.
Baidu is also seeking to expand its reach via the "box" computing concept, defined as deploying search functionality in an increasingly diverse range of ways beyond PC and even mobile.
"We hope people can easily find the information they want through Baidu's 'box', no matter what kind of terminal they use," Zhang Dongchen, Baidu's assistant president, told China Daily.
Yan Xiaojia, an analyst at Analysys International, the research firm, suggested the auto category could prove an interesting test case for this idea, but warned it might also become highly competitive.
"Different players within the industrial chain, including hardware vendors, automobile makers and service providers, have many resources in providing information services in automobiles," he said.
"Baidu has its own advantages in searching, but how far it can go in the automobile sector depends on the efforts and investment [it makes]."
According to Analysys International, the online search market was worth 4.3bn yuan ($668m; €469; £409m) in China during the second quarter of this year, with Baidu taking 75.9% of revenues, ahead of Google's 18.9%.
Last month, Baidu announced search tools such as its Images, Maps and Music Box offerings would be pre-loaded onto set-top boxes made by the Wasu Digital Television Media Group in 100 cities.
"Internet services have a huge potential for development in the TV sector with our collaboration in technology and product," said Li Xuedong, a vice president at WASU.
Data sourced from China Daily; additional content by Warc staff