Last week Baidu announced after two years of searching the appointment of Li Yinan as the new Chief Technology Officer for China’s leading search engine. Just when everything began to fall into place and we were getting ready for a season Googlesque innovation, rumours began to fly that William I. Chang, Baidu’s Chief Scientific Officer was planning to resign because he didn’t like his new job scope. Not sure though how much of a rumour it is when they have already named his successor.
To make CEO Robin Li’s life even more stressful, Baidu’s next big push will be into the e-commerce arena with the launch of youa.com may be thwarted by Alibaba Group’s announcement that it will invest another RMB5 billion into its own online Taobao.com to strengthen its 57% market share. Of course Alibaba claims that this had nothing to do with fending off Baidu and we of course believe them.
In its own corporate reshuffle, Alibaba has for the first time in its five year history appointed a COO. Zhang Yong, former CFO was promoted to fill the void left by Huang Ruo, the former VP and B2C business director who resigned at the end of September.
Also in the spirit of one-upmanship China Unicom is currently going through a beta testing phase in Liaoning Province of a new social network called u-powerbook.com. He Siyuan, the person in charge of the project says that the Facebook like SNS platform already has 200,000 subscribers and will compete with China Mobile’s existing 139 community.
China Mobile, who are obviously fresh out of home grown ideas, have decided to open an R&D facility in Silicon Valley by 2009. In the mean time, they are busy trying to make sure that China Unicom’s more device friendly W-CDMA 3G standard are given a run for their money by planning to offer services like video blogs, online gaming and instant video messages on their TD-SCDMA handsets.
Also last week IBM announced a new cultural heritage project “The Forbidden City: Beyond Space and Time” that will create a virtual tour of the famed Forbidden City in Beijing. Not only will the project create a virtual space (Just like Duke Nukem’ without all the critters) of the historical site, it will also incorporate “a window into the virtual world through which on-site visitors can learn more about their physical location.” Kaiser Kuo of Ogilvy Digital gives his impressions of the new virtual attraction here.
Nielson Online and the Operators of ChinaRank have entered into a JV called CR-Nielsen to provide internet measurement and analytics to China. We’re sure that this service will be of great use to the 250 million internet users in China but really folks, could nobody find a better name?
Finally Techblog86.com reports that the Ministry of Information & IT (MIIT) is cracking down on SMS spam. Hurrah!