Baidu to launch instant messaging network for China

The leading search engine in China, Baidu, announced it will launch Baidu Hi, a new instant messaging service designed to let Internet users in the country communicate with one another.

Baidu is currently recruiting new developers and engineers to help develop the software, and hasn't said when it hopes to have a product ready for the public. The Beijing-based company stated that all aspects of Baidu Hi development will be done completely in-house, eliminating the need for jobs to be contracted out to other companies.

Many search engines, facing an increased level of competition, have been forced to adapt and launch complimentary services to keep users coming back to the site for more than basic Internet searches.

Baidu stormed on the Internet search engine scene with its "MP3 Search" feature, which made it fast and easy for users to locate and download free music from Chinese and other artists. Another example is Google; the top search engine in the United States has a full range of software and services in development and available to users.

Baidu also branched out by launching a Japanese language search engine, though it does not appear the Chinese search giant has plans to launch a site for the US market.

Baidu declined to comment when asked about Baidu Hi and its future endeavors in the instant messaging space.

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