China’s largest search engine Baidu is planning to acquire two leading app stores in the country for US$1.9 billion, as the company seeks to expand its presence in the mobile Internet space.
Baidu on Monday said it signed an agreement to acquire 91 Wireless Websoft, a subsidiary of Chinese online gaming developer NetDragon Websoft. As part of the agreement, Baidu and NetDragon will negotiate and agree on the terms of the acquisition by Aug. 14.
91 Wireless manages two leading app distribution platforms in China, called 91 Assistant and HiMarket. Both essentially work as third-party stores for apps that can be downloaded to smartphones. More than 10 billion apps have been downloaded through the two platforms.
The acquisition could help Baidu bolster its own position in China’s competitive mobile Internet market. For years, Baidu has reigned as the country’s largest company for PC-based Internet searches. But recently Baidu has shifted more of its focus to mobile devices, as China has become the world’s largest market for smartphones.