Baidu’s ChatGPT-like Ernie Bot has more than 100 million users -CTO

BEIJING (Reuters) -Baidu’s ChatGPT-like Ernie Bot has garnered more than 100 million users, Wang Haifeng, chief technology officer of the Chinese internet company, said on Thursday.

The user base milestone, announced at a deep learning summit in Beijing, comes after the search engine giant opened Ernie Bot to the public in August. This was preceded by a partial unveiling and more than five-month trial period where select users could test the chatbot’s capabilities.

Analysts said that while the partial unveiling in March was underwhelming, it still gave the company a valuable first-mover advantage in a market that has since become crowded with dozens of players, as Chinese tech companies, large and small, look to develop their own chatbots powered by generative artificial intelligence (AI).

This followed the launch in late 2022 of U.S. research organization Open AI’s ChatGPT, which became the fastest-growing software application in the world within six months.

Since then, investors have valued OpenAI at more than $80 billion. While OpenAI’s parent is a nonprofit, Microsoft has invested $13 billion in a for-profit subsidiary, for what would be a 49% stake.

Baidu CEO Robin Li has this year repeatedly touted the potential for Ernie Bot and related products to help the company gain market share in its mainstream businesses, including search engine, cloud, and smart cars.

According to a ranking published on Thursday by SuperCLUE, which ranks generative AI-powered chatbots, Ernie Bot leads all Chinese chatbots but its score of 79.02 is more than 10 points lower than the latest version of ChatGPT.

(Reporting by Eduardo Baptista and Beijing newsroom; Editing by Tom Hogue, Jane Merriman and Sharon Singleton)