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China's Baidu Pays $1.9 Billion for Mobile App Store

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China's Baidu has issued a short statement that belied its importance, stating in bland terms that it has signed an agreement to buy the Chinese app store, 91 Wireless for a total of USD1.9 billion.

Technically, Baidu has agreed to buy the 57.4% of the app store owned by NetDragon, and will then issue a tender to buy out the minority shareholders.

Baidu is China's largest search engine website, and the deal boosts its presence in the increasingly important mobile market. The company had struggled to encourage mobile search users to its existing search services.

91 Wireless was established in 2007 and currently operates two app stores in China, 91 Assistant and HiMarket, both of which run on Google's Android operating system. It also develops its own apps.

A major owner of an Andoid app store could also help tidy up the market, which has been plagued with rip-off copies and malware laden apps.

With over 10 billion apps have been downloaded, 91 Wireless is China's biggest 3rd party app distribution platform by both active users and accumulated downloads, according to iResearch.

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Tags: baidu  app store  China