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Baidu says AI chatbot 'Ernie Bot' has attracted 200 million users

Published 04/15/2024, 10:31 PM
Updated 04/16/2024, 02:51 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Baidu's AI chatbot Ernie Bot is displayed near a screen showing the Baidu logo, in this illustration picture taken June 28, 2023. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo
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HONG KONG (Reuters) -China's Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU) said on Tuesday its artificial intelligence chatbot “Ernie Bot” has garnered more than 200 million users as it seeks to remain China’s most popular ChatGPT-like chatbot amid increasingly fierce competition.

The number of users has roughly doubled since the company's last update in December. The chatbot was released to the public eight months ago.

Baidu CEO Robin Li also said Ernie Bot's application programming interface (API) is being used 200 million times everyday, meaning the chatbot was requested by its user to conduct tasks that many times a day.

The number of enterprise clients for the chatbot reached 85,000, Li said at a conference in Shenzhen.

In February, he told analysts Baidu was starting to generate revenue from Ernie, and in the fourth quarter the company had earned several hundred million yuan using AI to improve its ad services and help other companies build their own models.

Last March, Ernie Bot was the first locally developed ChatGPT-like chatbot to be announced in China, but it only won approval for public release in August, one of the first eight AI chatbots that Beijing approved.

Unlike many other countries, China requires companies to obtain approval before rolling out generative AI services.

Recent data shows that rival domestic AI services, particularly the “Kimi” chatbot from a 12-month-old, Alibaba-backed start-up named Moonshot AI, are quickly catching up with Ernie Bot.

Ernie Bot was visited a total of 14.9 million times across its app and website last month, while Kimi had a total of 12.6 million visits in the same month, data from AIcpb.com, a site that tracks user visits to online AI services, showed.

And Kimi was growing much faster, with visits jumping 321.6% in March from February, while the number of visits to Ernie Bot grew more than 48%, the data showed.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Baidu's AI chatbot Ernie Bot is displayed near a screen showing the Baidu logo, in this illustration picture taken June 28, 2023. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Illustration/File Photo

Globally, Chinese generative AI services still lag far behind their Western counterparts. According to AIcpb.com, OpenAI’s ChatGPT remains the world’s most popular generative AI service, with total traffic growing 9% to reach 1.86 billion views last month.

In recent months, China has accelerated approvals for AI services after highlighting AI as a key area in tech where China will have to compete with the U.S. Last week, state media reported 117 large AI models have received approvals so far.

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