China's Baidu touts AI chatbot, sees 2022 revenue fall 1%

Published February 22nd, 2023 - 07:36 GMT
Baidu touts AI chatbot as
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ALBAWABA — Chinese search giant Baidu on Wednesday touted its artificial intelligence chatbot while reporting that revenue fell by 1 percent in 2022 as fourth quarter growth remained basically flat from last year. 


"2022 was a challenging year, but we used this period to prepare the company for better times. In 2023, we believe we have a clear path to reaccelerate our revenue growth, and we are now well positioned to make use of the opportunities that China's economic recovery offers us," Robin Li, Baidu co-founder and chief executive officer, said in an earnings statement on the company website. 


"With our long-term investments in AI, we are poised to capitalize on the imminent inflection point in AI, unlocking exciting new opportunities across our entire business portfolio — from mobile ecosystem to AI Cloud, autonomous driving, smart devices, and beyond," Li added.


The company posted total revenues of 123.7 billion renminbi for the latest fiscal year, down from 124.5 billion RMB in 2021.


Operating income jumped over 51 percent year-on-year from 10.5 billion RMB to 15.9 billion RMB while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose by 19 percent from just under 25 billion RMB to 29.7 RMB year-on-year.


Cost of revenues was basically flat from last year, primarily due to the increase in traffic acquisition costs, bandwidth costs, cost of goods sold and other costs related to new AI business, offset by the decrease in content costs, dipping to 63.9 billion RMB, a decrease of 1 percent year-on-year, the company reported.


The company, which operates China's biggest online search engine, identified long-term investments in artificial intelligence as part of its growth plans, saying it would include its AI chatbot Ernie in its search services starting in March.


Li said the company plans to also integrate Ernie into several services, including its smart speaker Xiaodu and its operating system for self-driving cars.


"We plan to fully integrate Ernie bot across all our products." Li said during a call with analysts.


Earlier this month, Baidu said it was testing an AI powered chatbot as tech giants rush to match the success of Microsoft-led ChatGPT, a hugely popular language app that has sparked a gold rush in AI technology sector.



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