In a sign that more Chinese are relying on their smartphones to go online, local search giant Baidu said its mobile Internet traffic had surpassed traffic from PCs during the third quarter.
Baidu, China's largest search engine, noted the shift in an earnings call Thursday, when the company's CEO Robin Li said its traffic from mobile devices represented over half of the total user traffic.
The company's mobile traffic has been steadily growing over the last quarters, at a time when China has become the world's largest market for smartphones. In addition, tablet use may have also contributed to the shift.
On Thursday, Baidu said it began bundling in the third quarter user traffic from tablet devices with its overall mobile traffic figures. Tablets had previously been included with the company's PC figures.
But even as Baidu's mobile traffic continues to grow, the company still generates more revenue from online ads designed for PC-based Internet viewing. In the third quarter, the company's mobile advertising made up 36 percent of total revenue, up 3 percentage points from the previous quarter.
Baidu makes nearly all its revenue from selling online ads. In the third quarter, it generated 13.5 billion yuan (US$2.2 billion) in revenue, up 52 percent from a year ago. It's net profit in the quarter was also up by about 27 percent year-over-year, raking in about 3.9 billion yuan. To maintain the consistent growth, the company has been investing heavily in product research and promoting its company services.
The company's search app and browser have been driving its mobile traffic, Li said during the earnings call. Its voice search already accounts for about 10 percent of the mobile searches made through Baidu. "We believe in the next five years, over 50 percent of searches will be speech or image driven," he said.