Chinese internet search engine giant and popular mapping service provider Baidu Inc., has invested $11.5 million in Qianhai Mobile – a local start-up that provides commuters in over 10 cities across the country with free wireless internet access.
China Money Network reported that the investment deal, which will be implemented through the subscriptions of shares, also included funding from two Chinese private equity investors; Dongguan Zhongke Zhongguang Venture Investment and Guangdong Zhongke Baiyun New Industry Venture Investment.
Qianhai Mobile is affiliated with VisionChina Media, a listed media firm, which provides passengers with free wireless internet access. The company’s reach spans different routes and approximately 35,000 buses in 18 cities across China. These cities include some of the country’s major cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Tianjin.
VisionChina Media is steadily expanding; the company recently reached a new milestone after more than 7.5 million Chinese passengers used their WiFi service.
According to Tech Crunch, Baidu’s decision to invest is a very strategic step that aligns with the company’s other varied mobile services (i.e. maps) that customers may need to use when in transit.
The new investment deal will see the internet giant working in partnership with Qianhai mobile to develop, monetize and distribute mobile apps. These apps would include the already popular Baidu Map and it’s consortium of mobile services.
“We are very impressed with VisionChina Media’s many years of experience operating the leading public transit-based media platform in China, and the Company’s ongoing transition to an internet-focused business” Peter Fang, a Baidu executive said in a statement.
“We are excited with the opportunity to work with VisionChina Media to truly address the needs of urban commuters and realize the significant long-term value of the Company’s public transit Wi-Fi network.”
Recently, Baidu has been caught up in a scandal after the company was accused of cheating in an artificial intelligence test that the its supercomputer passed last month. Baidu’s Minwa supercomputer reportedly had the lowest error rate in the test ahead of Google and Microsoft, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The organization in charge of the ImageNet Large Scale Visual Recognition Challenge (ILSVRC) has revealed that Baidu’s team did not follow the rules of the test. Baidu has since apologized for what it describes as a “mistake.”