Baidu Has Its Head in the Clouds

China's leading search engine has it easy.

All that Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU  ) has to do is see what's working with its Western peers and copy it.

The dot-com darling is hosting a developers' conference this morning to introduce Baidu WangPan, according to Just as Dropbox is all the rage stateside with its cloud storage of files that can be accessed anywhere that a Web connection is possible, WangPan has the potential to catch on quickly.

It's also free, at least for the first meaty 15 gigabytes of storage.

More importantly it keeps Baidu -- which already commands 78% of China's search market -- on top. Once someone leans on WangPan to make text documents, snapshots, and other media files portable, they'll be hard pressed to stop using Baidu.

How successful WangPan will be in a country that is already pretty wary of the freedoms being granted in cyberspace remains to be seen. Over on the social networking side, Renren (NYSE: RENN  ) and SINA's (Nasdaq: SINA  ) Weibo are already coping with government requirements for users to be authenticated. Transferring chunky files isn't the catalyst for a revolution, but sometimes it's hard to tell where China will land on some of these things.

Baidu isn't just phoning it in. When something works, it throws its weight behind it. Baidu inked a deal earlier this week with DigitalGlobal (NYSE: DGI  ) for high-resolution imagery of 344 Chinese cities for its mapping platform.

However, Baidu is also willing to cut loose what either isn't working or may be more trouble than it's worth.

Baidu shuttered Baidu Shuoba -- or Baidu Talk -- last summer after realizing that its shot at the micro-blogging market was being better served by Weibo.

WangPan should last longer than the yearlong Baidu Shouba experiment. Even if most of China's citizenry doesn't own multiple Web-surfing devices, the ability to access the same files from any Internet source is an easy sell -- especially when it's free.

Bullish on Baidu
A bullish call on Baidu has served me well on Motley Fool CAPS over the years. True to the CAPScall initiative, I'm not going to give up on it now. Baidu has soared 1,613% since I recommended it to Rule Breakers newsletter subscribers six years ago, but now it's time to discover the next rule-breaking multibagger. It's a free report. Want it? Get it.

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Baidu and SINA. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (11)

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  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2012, at 3:35 PM, jimaraid2 wrote:

    Rick, This quote is inaccurate as to Renren.

    "Over on the social networking side, Renren (NYSE: RENN ) and SINA's (Nasdaq: SINA ) Weibo are already coping with government requirements for users to be authenticated."

    RENN has always been only real name registered users. RENN is not now coping with the new real name requirements because they have always required use of verified real names.

    SINA, on the other hand, has a huge problem because most of its users cannot use the service as of march 16 because they do not want to use their real names.

  • Report this Comment On March 23, 2012, at 11:47 PM, onlyshortrenren wrote:

    you sound like one of those loser bagholder on the yahoo board. renren is the worst stock one can own.there are a million good deals even in this overbought market why would anyone even consider renren? its trading at a valuation thats almost unheard of with no clear path to profits, only further losses. seems like a scam more and more every day.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2012, at 12:24 AM, jimaraid2 wrote:

    No onlyshortrenren, what I seek is reporting the truth. You on the other hand are a paid basher because you are paid 1 penny per post, to lie to the public. Motley Fool should not even allow you to comment here, because you are a quasi-criminal for hire who lies and misrepresents the truth to potential investors about a public company. You are simply 1 tadpole of the common scum of any finance message board. Enjoy your sad life buddy!, but at least attempt to bring some substance to your argument. For example, you say RENN makes no money. Check the earnings before you make such a patent lie in the public arena. All of your statements are false and fraudulent. I assume you work at the piker firm Maxim, completely clueless and fraudulent? Check Oppenheimer - rates RENN as outperform with 12 month target of $8. There is some credibility. State reasons based on knowledge for your putrid attempt to bash a solid company.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2012, at 1:00 AM, onlyshortrenren wrote:

    please post all facts not just the ones that suit your argument. 5 of 6 analysts rate renn a sell with an average price target of 5 dollars.

    as far as my statement that renn makes no money, i am well aware of their reports and i stand by my statement, they have zero profits and do not expect any profits anytime soon nor do they even display a path to suggest profits in the distant future are even possible. renn is nearly ten years old as a company with growth that is pathetic in their sector especially for someone who tries to defend a valuation that can only be compared to facebook. if their valuation and failed business model wasnt enough your ceo if not a scam artist is at the very least a moron.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2012, at 1:12 AM, jimaraid2 wrote:

    please list the 5 of 6 that rate Renn a sell. They have great profits. Cite and link your claim they have losses. Show me how growth of 55% is pathetic. Explain why you are not a moron for lying to the public on every single statement that you have made here. Are you just stupid, or intentionally lying for a a penny per post profit?

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2012, at 1:21 AM, jimaraid2 wrote:

    Your analysis is completely pathetic. You are being coached by some misfit from a cell phone, and even he has no clue about the truth if RENN, so go blough him for more knowledge about life and to collect your pennies.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2012, at 1:22 AM, jimaraid2 wrote:

    When acting like a toad, do not expect to be treated any better than a frog in the dark.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2012, at 1:30 AM, onlyshortrenren wrote:

    im sorry, what i meant that of 7 analysts covering renn only one has a buy rating. renn has no profits, you need to do some DD and you will quickly learn the truth about renren. its trading at a valuation that would be questionable for even a highly profitable company let alone a company that cant turn a profit or even provide a path to one. renn was trading at cash value a couple months ago before facebook. that alone should have told you something. did you think you found a gem no one else saw? thats a foolish way to trade. the market is always right. the market knows renn is a failure and by the time you figure it out it will be too is a far better buy than renn.

  • Report this Comment On March 24, 2012, at 9:36 AM, jimaraid2 wrote:

    Good then buy AAPL. I'm sure you'd say you got into AAPL at 10 or something. RENN did have a profit, so to say it did not is a bald faced lie! That shows your complete lack of truth and candor right there. Do some research before you make your penny posts.

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