Recently, Baidu formally announced the establishment of Smart Living Group (hereinafter referred to as SLG). SLG is comprised of Baidu Duer Department, Baidu Hardware Eco-Channel Department and Raven Studios. Qi Lu, Baidu president and COO, serves as the general manager of SLG.
Kun Jing will continue to serve as the director of Duer Department, focusing on the DuerOS platform and ecological construction and operation. The former Baidu Hardware Eco-Channel Department will upgrade to the Baidu Hardware Eco-Channel Business Division, with Yang Yongcheng as director, focusing on mass production, e-commerce construction and channel expansion. Former Baidu Intelligent Hardware Division is renamed as Raven Studios, with Lu Yu as director, focusing on the exploration of cutting-edge product forms. The above-mentioned directors report directly to Qi Lu.
The establishment of SLG means that the former independent Duer, smart home, and hardware departments will all be integrated into one. The Duer team led by Jing will focus on the DuerOS system, the software for intelligent hardware. Lu Pin and his team will focus on the design and development of intelligent products. The Hardware Eco-Channel Division will continue to devote to serving Baidu’s hardware and laying channel foundation for Baidu intelligent hardware. This implies that Baidu will invest more in self-developed hardware.
This integration means that Baidu will further focus on conversational artificial intelligence. Baidu will integrate internal resources, clarify division of labor, play a team advantage and invest more in intelligent hardware layout. Compared with the previous scattered structure, the newly established SLG is more conducive to integrating software and hardware resources, expanding the intelligent voice interactive market, and accelerating the application of AI technology. This move is consistent with Qi Lu’s mission since he became COO of Baidu.
At the “Baidu World” conference held in November 2017, Raven Studios released Raven H, an intelligent speaker developed with DuerOS. This speaker is priced at $260 (1699 yuan) and is available on market now. Before, it took four to six weeks to deliver the product after placing an order on the official website.
As of January 2018, there are over 50 million intelligent devices equipped with DuerOS, with over 10 million monthly active devices.