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Baidu Cloud Hackathon in Singapore: Testing the Waters in Southeast Asia

Themed as a responsible “green” event and held as a part of expansionary efforts out of China, Baidu’s first Hackathon in Singapore took place on weekend of the 27th and 28th of July. The Baidu Open Cloud Hackathon aimed to promote hackers and developers in Singapore to use Baidu tools or integrate their Apps with existing Baidu tools. Like a marathon, the event began in Beijing, Chengdu, and Wuhan, and later came to Taipei and Singapore.

In addition to promoting the use of Baidu tools, the event surrounded the use of green technology, encouraging hackers to come up with products that help to instill “green” habits in users or contribute to “green” thoughts about the environment. WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) was a notable conservation partner for the event.

MobiSights managed to get ahold of Chief Architect of Baidu Cloud Mr. Hou Zhenyu for a quick interview. He let us know what Baidu’s Open Cloud is all about.

Interview with Mr. Hou Zhenyu, Chief Architect of Baidu Open Cloud.

Interview held at Plug-in@blk71 in Singapore.

When asked about his trip in Singapore, Mr. Hou Zhenyu responded that there are 2 different types of weather in Singapore: Freezing cold indoors and Charcoal hot outdoors.

What is Baidu’s Open Cloud all about?

Baidu Cloud has been around since Baidu started a decade ago. Unlike Baidu’s search engine and other well known applications, it has always been hidden behind the scenes, fuelling all of Baidu’s initiatives over the decade.

Baidu Cloud can be segregated into two main categories, for personal users (http://yun.baidu.com/) (just like Dropbox), and on the Open Cloud (for developers) http://developer.baidu.com/en/.

However, it was not until these last two years that Baidu Cloud has opened up and welcomed developers to use Baidu tools for their applications (http://developer.baidu.com/en/index.html).

When asked who is their competitor?

When asked who their competitors are, Mr. Hou was very firm in stating that the number of competitors is few and big firms with actual Cloud Technology is rare. Some corporations may seem like they are doing “Cloud” related business, yet the nature of their business will never be Cloud-oriented (for instance like Alibaba and Alicloud).

Hence only firms with sufficient technology and resources are able to provide such services. For Baidu, competitors within China are few, yet on a global scale, its competitors are really powerful ones.

Why come to Singapore?

There are good developers in Singapore and supportive authorities as well. Most importantly, the strategic location of Singapore acts as a good platform to learn more about the neighboring South East Asia countries. In addition, Singapore has the highest web or internet penetration among the rest of the SEA countries.

Many might be guessing that Baidu is finally stepping out of China as they set up a R&D center in Singapore last year. However, it does not mean that the China Internet giant is finally unleashing its claws outside China soon. Mr. Hou states that the research facility here would be part of a preparation and learning process for Baidu to understand markets and technologies better outside of China. Mr. Hou was unable to reveal his company’s direction for internationalization; however, Baidu cloud has quite a bit of activity in Thailand and Vietnam.

What is the advice that you would give to oversea developers who are interested in the China market?

Localization is the key. Mr. Hou strongly recommends developers who are keen on the China market to look into other apps and tools made by China developers. Baidu Cloud (for developers) has also come up with an English version for their website and tools, hoping that more Android developers can try out their tools in app creation.

Compared to other Baidu applications, such as their search engine and map, Baidu Cloud has not received that kind of penetration. The division hopes to gain more publicity and exposure to create more branding soon. Internationalization is not their main aim in the near future.

When asked about their acquisition of 91.net

The staff at Baidu were not allowed to comment on this, however they said it was a strategic move and their PR representatives believed that any deal was possible. In other words, regardless of the price, if the strategy matched their plans, they would go through with the deal. Additionally, the acquisition helped to increase awareness that Baidu is definitely looking into mobile.

 

(Edited by Matt Johnson)

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