Although Microsoft’s Windows Phone (WP) mobile OS seems to be only having modest success in China and around the globe, it has nonetheless attracted a lot of Chinese web companies into building WP apps in the short space of time since it launched officially in China in March of this year. The newest of these is the country’s biggest search engine, Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), whose Baidu Maps for WP is now out in the wild – though only in beta form.
The mobile maps app looks well localized for WP, not using the same kind of interface that it does on iOS or Android. Plus, it has a killer feature, supporting the downloading of portions of an area, or a whole city, so that they can be viewed offline. Baidu Maps for WP also incorporates its own local listings – like Google Places – in lots of different categories, like food, entertainment, and transport.
A recent report says that China now has 14 percent of the global total of WP platform users – a figure that’s second only to America’s. Clearly that’s a substantial enough number to make it important for major web companies to be on – though most Chinese startups are waiting it out and are understandably focusing on iOS and then Android.
As for Baidu Maps, it’s China’s third most popular mobile mapping service. Local Autonavi (NASDAQ:AMAP) leads, a fraction ahead of Google Maps. Baidu recently tried to torpedo its car-oriented local rival Autonavi by rolling out free voice navigation for drivers in its Android app. But that isn’t in this new WP beta app.
Baidu Maps for WP hasn’t yet hit the Marketplace, so the ‘.xap’ file is being shared via this cloud storage site.
[Source: WPDang - article in Chinese]