Baidu to Buy Mobile App Store for $1.9 Billion

Chinese search giant Baidu Inc. said it would buy one of China’s mobile app stores for $1.9 billion as it ramps up to compete for business from China’s growing population of smartphone-carrying consumers.

Baidu Inc. said in a statement Tuesday that it signed an agreement to buy 91 Wireless Websoft Ltd. from China’s NetDragon Websoft Inc. The acquisition would be Baidu’s largest to date, and it becomes the most recent in a string of high-profile investments and acquisitions focused on mobile services. Baidu, which operates by far China’s largest search engine by revenue and traffic, has had difficulty attracting mobile customers to its service due to the relative unpopularity of search on mobile devices compared with personal computers.

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