Baidu spices up smartphones with AI technology

Xiaodu Technology, an artificial intelligence arm under Baidu, China’s answer to Google, confirmed on 8 May that it will reveal the brand’s first smartphone later this month, according to Jing Kun, Chief Executive Officer of Xiaodu Technology.

This marks the internet company’s foray into the smartphone battlefield, which has attracted over 110 million views of the topic on China’s largest microblogging site Weibo as of 10 May. Leveraging its expertise in artificial intelligence, the AI-driven mobile device is expected to beef up its competitive edge amongst existing smartphones makers while fanning the ongoing fad around AI technology.

Named as Xiaodu Qinghe (Xiaodu Green Grain Seeding), the new drop is to be equipped with the company’s self-developed AI technology. ERNIE Bot, a chatbot recently developed by Baidu amid the AI race following the release of ChatGPT, however, will not be incorporated in the system, a company insider told the Chinese media outlet The Paper.

Yet, Xiaodu Technology announced in February through its official WeChat account that the ERNIE Bot will be fully embedded in its products, which indicates the brand’s intention to integrate the large language model into its future makings.

While full details are yet to be released next week, speculation has arisen that the new smartphone will be education-oriented with students being the target consumers, according to the Chinese media outlet IT Home, citing several insiders from Xiaodu Technology. The hint is in the naming, which is similar to its AI-learning program called “Xiaodu AI Green Bamboo Growth Project”, designed for primary school students.

Confidence in the new market disrupter has been growing as Xiaodu Technology achieved the best seller at home of smart devices including smart speakers, learning tablets and smart fitness mirrors in 2022, as per International Data Corporation (IDC). However, it remains to be seen how well this AI-equipped smartphone will fare as gloom lingers in the market. China’s smartphone sector recorded a shipment of 65.44 million in Q1 2023, a year-on-year decrease of 11.8%, which is a continuation of the year-on-year decline in quarterly shipments that has exceeded 10% since 2022, according to a report released on 27 April by IDC.


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