In an interview with the Times of India, Tim Yang, the general manager of Baidu India, said that the company has already had discussions with each company. A representative for Baidu confirmed that talks have taken place, but said the company can’t give specific details about investment plans yet.
Restaurant search and reservation site Zomato, ticket booking platform BookMyShow and online grocer BigBasket are all examples of O2O startups. O2O, which can stand for “online-to-offline” or “offline-to-online,” is a catchall term for companies that focus on directing e-commerce traffic into brick-and-mortar businesses (or vice versa). Despite its silly acronym, O2O is a major priority for Chinese tech companies, especially those that want to grow their mobile businesses because a lot of O2O commerce is conducted through smartphone apps.
India is expected to overtake the United States as the world’s largest Internet market by user number soon. Unsurprisingly, many tech companies in China (which has the most Internet users in the world)—including Tencent, Alibaba, Didi Kuaidi, and Xiaomi—are looking at India as a potential market and source of investment opportunities.
Several of Baidu’s products are already available in India and have tens of millions of users. The most popular ones are utility apps for Android devices: ES File Explorer (which has over 10 million monthly active users in India), DU Speed Booster (eight million), and DU Battery Saver (eight million).
It also operates a third-party Android app store called MoboMarket, which is already available in Hindi. Support for more Indian languages is planned—including Bengali, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, and Urdu—in order to attract consumers in smaller cities, part of Baidu’s plan to grow its user base by targeting people who are accessing the Internet or using smartphones for the first time.