Chinese search engine giant Baidu just launched a new blockchain app – Duniverse a week ago.
It’s not Baidu’s first blockchain product this year, they have launched Pic-Chain in April and moved its encyclopedia Baidu Baike onto blockchain, using timestamps and hash algorithm to confirm ownership of IP rights.
Then, Baidu launched a public chain called Super Chain in June and used it to develop Duniverse.
Duniverse’s goal is to first improve product experience, then using tokens as incentives to build a fully autonomous community and build an ecosystem for developers in the end.
With Baidu in the game, how will blockchain in China evolve in the future?
Baidu’s ambition – build a new knowledge map and social relationship
Duniverse is designed as a product which can provide both fun and knowledge for users, according to its official introduction. It will using concepts like token incentive and mining to build a knowledge competition for all users.
Two key words shall be noticed. First is knowledge, from a business angle, it is in alliance with Baidu’s current strategy since Baidu Zhidao, Baidu Tieba and Baidu Baike are three major platforms for users to get answers to their questions. Besides, a knowledge map could be similar to a universe. As each concepts of knowledge is interconnected just like planets are connected through gravitation.
The other key word is “all users”. It makes people think of social media which has not been an advantage for Baidu in past years. Thanks to Facebook’s scandal, people are getting increasingly uncomfortable with the traditional social media. Blockchain might be a great way to build a next-gen social network.
Baidu’s blockchain strategy
Baidu has already launched strategies for three major global trends – AI, blockchain and IoT. AI is a priority for Baidu now as they have said AI First in 2017. Robin Li, founder of Baidu even said that Baidu is no longer an Internet company but an AI company. As for IoT, they have released their Apollo driverless car as well.
Blockchain might play an important role to help Baidu integrate their users spread among all kinds of Baidu’s subsidiary apps. By introducing a token, users can gain tokens in one app and spend it for a function in another. This model can tremendously improve Baidu users’ activity.
B.A.T, which one of them will disrupt themselves?
“I think Tencent and Alibaba are pursing blockchain to satisfy their own technical needs while companies like Baidu and Netease are more interested in building an ecosystem.” Said Chai Qiaozi, director of Baidu’s blockchain program.
Today in China, Alibaba dominates the e-commerce, Tencent is the king in games, music and videos and Baidu is the search engine monopolist.
Blockchain introduced decentralization, which will probably touch those companies’ interests in the future. Therefore, despite all of them have been making moves on blockchain, none of them have making leaps yet.
Whoever willing to sacrifice its vested interests to pursue a better application of blockchain is probably going to redefine the position of B.A.T.
Blockchain application also faces multiple challenges. Chai Qiaozi said earlier that blockchain is facing three major problems: one is a deficient technical storage. Centralized apps can perform much better and more efficient. The second is too many scams. This is quite ironic since blockchain should be resolving trusting issues. Third is scaling because of a high barrier for ordinary users.
Anyway, it’s all about letting users feel the benefits from blockchain, letting them feel that their assets and proper rights are righteously preserved.
Zarc Gin is an analyst for Warp Speed Fintech, a Fintech, especially InsurTech-focused Venture Capital based in China.
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