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By Wei Yuqi
The sword points to Tesla, baidu is no longer silent
One night in the winter of 2020, Liu Tong (pseudonym), who works in Beijing, hit a Beiqi EU5 with Didi. Out of curiosity, he asked the owner how to use the car’s intelligent system. The owner said that he didn’t use much at ordinary times, and then he showed the system interface. However, Liu Tongtong lost interest after seeing the interface. The car actually uses the system developed by LETV.
According to the data of the passenger car Association, the cumulative retail sales of new energy vehicles in China will be 1.109 million in 2020. Considering that more than 90% of the sales come from traditional car companies and their weak software capabilities, at least 1.11 million new energy vehicles are just “electric vehicles” worthy of the name.
However, along with the change of energy, there are intelligent and automatic vehicles. Compared with the development of electrification, the progress of the latter two is much less.
Take autonomous driving as an example. As early as 1939, at the New York World Expo, General Motors described a scene of how technological progress would change life in 1960: there were driverless cars everywhere at that time.
Today, the scenario that GM envisioned has not yet come true, and no one knows when it will come true. Automation and intelligence have become industry problems. It’s not that no one is doing it, but that no one has a mature solution.
From this perspective, it is not surprising that Baidu will join hands with Geely to challenge Tesla.
Just Baidu’s wishful thinking, although playing loud, but may not be satisfactory. In the case that Baidu has been slow and needs to overcome the logic difference with traditional car companies, it is not easy for Baidu to implement the idea of promoting itself into the IOT era by making cars in person.
Habitual slow beat
On November 17, 2020, baidu announced another blockbuster on the same day that it released its financial report. Baidu will acquire huanju’s domestic video entertainment live broadcasting business (YY live broadcasting) with about US $3.6 billion in cash (adjusted according to the agreement’s contingent consideration), including but not limited to YY mobile applications YY.com Website and YY PC. the transaction delivery depends on the delivery conditions agreed in the agreement and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2021.
The “heavyweight” part of this news is that Baidu, which has been hovering outside the live broadcast door for many years, has finally made a decision to affect the development trend of this business.
In fact, baidu did live broadcast very early, even earlier than the thousand broadcast war.
Around 2014, show live broadcast and E-sports live broadcast were the mainstream. At this time, baidu entered the live broadcast industry with the mode of “search + live broadcast”. However, at this time, Baidu’s focus is on o2o, and the live broadcast is just a supplement to the search.
In the twinkling of an eye, in 2018, Baidu has cooperated with platforms such as Zanthoxylum bungeanum and Betta. The cooperation content is that the live broadcast platform opens the live broadcast content to Baidu, and Baidu plays the role of traffic distribution platform in the cooperation. Although the direction has changed at this time, it is not difficult to see that the status of live broadcasting in Baidu has not changed. It is still a supplement to the search business.
It was not until the decision was made to buy a ticket with about $3.6 billion that the status of the live broadcasting business changed in nature.
However, the current situation of the live broadcast industry has already changed from blue ocean to red ocean, showing an obvious trend of platform head, which makes Baidu slow down. Whether Kwai Chung, a fast rising player in recent years, or tiktok, tiger tooth or even B station, which is dominated by electric games, Baidu has a great advantage in front of them.
Baidu has done more than live broadcast of new business, most of which failed to get rid of the slow script.
Now, iqiyi, the No.1 but unprofitable company in the industry, is also the representative of the slow half shot. The first video website in China is LETV. It successfully landed on the A-share growth enterprise market in 2010. Youku and Tudou also went to the United States in 2011. Iqiyi was just established in 2010.
Similar to the long video is o2o. When Baidu entered this field, the thousand regiments war was coming to an end. Baidu entered the o2o field by purchasing nuomi.com and launching Baidu takeaway online. Robin Li also said he would invest 20 billion yuan in O2O.
However, in less than a year, Baidu, which wavered in tactics, gave up o2o. Baidu’s glutinous rice shrank, and Baidu’s takeout was starved.
In this car building, Baidu’s starting time is not too late. It’s just that there is an essential difference between the identity of the current vehicle manufacturer and the previous positioning. This change also shows that Baidu has been slow in car building.
Before 2021, Baidu’s model is to empower auto companies and only do the software part that it is good at. However, Baidu has to build cars when the cooperation between Baidu and auto companies is delayed and there is no good feedback, and the sales volume of Tesla is getting higher and higher, leaving less opportunities for Baidu.
In July 2017, at the first Baidu AI developer conference, Robin Li demonstrated the achievement of Baidu’s driverless car through live broadcast and live real-time connection. He sat on a car without driver and ran smoothly on the Fifth Ring Road in Beijing. Despite the fact that Robin Li received a ticket for the traffic police afterwards, the purpose of the show muscle has been achieved.
Before that, in April 2017, Lu Qi, the then president of Baidu group and coo, suddenly announced a heavy message at a media briefing in Shanghai, releasing the “Apollo plan”, saying that Baidu’s automatic driving ability will “open source” and become the “Android” of the automatic driving industry. At this time, it has been two years since the establishment of automatic driving division in 2015, and four years since the establishment of Baidu deep learning research institute.
Now, with the development of Tesla and China’s new car making forces getting better and better, baidu announced to build cars as a manufacturer, which is undoubtedly a half shot slow again.
Even so, Baidu, which has advantages in software, is not without hope in car building. Baidu’s advantages are reflected in automation and intelligence.
In terms of automation, Baidu has been ranked in the first echelon in the world by a number of autopilot lists; intelligence is the strength of Internet companies.
At the same time, the progress of automation and intelligence of traditional automobile enterprises is worrying.
Taking Volkswagen as an example, Deus, CEO of Volkswagen Group, once said: “Volkswagen Group still has a long way to go to catch up with Tesla. The difficulty of catching up is not in electrification, but in the software field represented by automatic driving. ” Moreover, the progress of the public in software has not been satisfactory. Id.3, which is highly expected by the public, has repeatedly jumped because of too many software bugs.
What can car making bring to Baidu?
Before Baidu officially announced the construction of the car, in fact, some relevant news had been circulating, but many parties involved had denied it.
The most recent one was on December 18. It was reported that Baidu and Weima will jointly build cars. At present, the two sides are discussing the possible cooperation mode. Baidu and Weima responded “no comment.”.
However, there was a small episode in this scandal, that is, Shen Hui, chairman and CEO of Weima automobile, unexpectedly praised the relevant microblog.
The auto companies that have ties with Baidu, especially the new forces, are not only Weima. Both he Xiaopeng and Li Xiang have met Lu Qi. As a result, everyone’s views are the same in the general direction, but no cooperation has been reached in the end.
The reason is that Baidu hopes to cooperate with its car companies, not only can not do automatic driving, but also must use Baidu’s autopilot system. Baidu’s approval is required on Alipay, QQ music, High German map and other non Baidu applications.
Although Baidu didn’t cooperate with these two pure new car building forces and chose Geely and Weima, its idea is “Sima Zhao’s heart is known to all.”.
In July 2017, at the baidu AI developer conference, Lu Qi, then president and COO of Baidu group, clearly wrote Baidu’s future direction on keynote: AI is Baidu’s opportunity, all in AI.
Baidu has chosen two directions in the commercialization of AI: smart city and automotive services including automation and intelligence. That is to say, Baidu’s goal of promoting its automatic driving system is to make a lot of investment in return.
Baidu will build a car as a vehicle manufacturer, and provide core technologies such as artificial intelligence, Apollo automatic driving, small vehicle, baidu map in cooperation.
It can be seen that the nature of Baidu’s car making has changed fundamentally. Before 2021, Baidu and Alibaba will join hands with SAIC to build a zebra network, and the route of curve car building is similar, except that they have accumulated more AI technology.
However, it should be noted that although the routes are similar, the objectives are not the same. On the surface, Baidu pushes its autopilot system even at the expense of open source, so as to pave the way for commercialization of AI.
But in fact, commercialization is only one of the two reasons for Baidu to do so. The other reason is that Baidu does not want to miss the era of mobile Internet and brush past the next era of Internet industry, that is, the era of Internet of things.
The Internet industry has spread from abroad to China, from the early Enlightenment period to today’s prosperity stage. Although many stories have happened and one company after another has been born, it has only experienced two stages: PC and mobile Internet. Founded in 2000, Baidu, based on the patent of “hyperlink analysis”, has opened its own era in China’s search market, but Baidu has stayed in the PC era.
In the era of mobile Internet, Baidu has not seen or acted, but has been slow for half a beat. At present, the only mobile phone in hand, Baidu, has a very low sense of existence.
In 2013, baidu spent $1.9 billion to acquire 91 wireless, the largest application search distribution platform in China at that time. Baidu’s abacus is to strengthen Baidu’s position in mobile application distribution through 91 wireless’s over 50% penetration in the two camps of iPhone and Android.
To put it bluntly, wechat is Tencent’s mobile internet ticket, mobile Taobao is Alibaba’s mobile internet ticket, and Baidu hopes that 91 wireless can become its own ticket.
In fact, Baidu’s idea is right. The problem lies in the application distribution industry. In a flash, mobile phone manufacturers have launched their own application distribution channels. This makes 91 wireless, Peapod and other third-party applications lose their original advantages.
After the mobile Internet, IOT, which is often mentioned, is regarded as the next era of the Internet industry.
In view of Baidu’s advantage in search market share, but its advantage in profit means advertising market is gradually shrinking, Baidu has to pay attention to IOT.
On the one hand, advertising is still the pillar of Baidu’s revenue. In 2019, Baidu’s revenue is 107.4 billion yuan, including 78.1 billion yuan of online advertising revenue, accounting for 72.7% of the total revenue. On the other hand, there is a strong competitor in the advertising market, which is dominant in information flow advertising. According to the Research Report of CITIC Securities, the overall revenue in 2019 will be 120-140 billion yuan, of which advertising accounts for more than 85%, and the scale has exceeded 100 billion yuan.
In other words, Baidu has been unable to lie on the credit books of the past like Alibaba and Tencent. IOT, including smart speakers and cars, is for Baidu 91 wireless in 2021, baidu glutinous rice and Baidu takeout in 2014. It is Baidu’s ticket to the next era.
But the cooperation with Geely is not as good as Baidu imagined. The cooperation between Alibaba and SAIC is a lesson from the past. According to the report of Yuguan auto market, the root cause of the internal strife of zebra network before was the competition between Alibaba and SAIC for data, technology and resources of Internet of vehicles. From the current information, although Baidu plays a leading role in the joint venture, Geely also attaches great importance to this aspect. The two kinds of thinking and resource allocation between the Internet and traditional automobile enterprises inevitably lay hidden dangers for their cooperation.
It can be seen that Baidu still has a long way to go to reproduce the success of the PC era in car building.
(statement: This article only represents the author’s point of view, not Sina’s position.)