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Baidu Says AI Chatbot ‘Ernie’ Has Had 200m Users

‘Ernie Bot’ is China’s most popular chatbot. Baidu earned several hundred million yuan using AI in the fourth quarter of last year

The logo of Baidu's AI chatbot Ernie Bot is displayed near a screen showing the Baidu logo, in this illustration picture taken on June 28, 2023. Photo: Reuters
The logo of Baidu's AI chatbot Ernie Bot is displayed near a screen showing the Baidu logo. Photo: Reuters


Chinese tech giant Baidu said on Tuesday the number of people using its artificial intelligence chatbot “Ernie Bot” has doubled to more than 200 million.

‘Ernie Bot’ is China’s most popular ChatGPT-like chatbot, and the company is keen to maintain that status, amid increasing competition.

The number of users has shot up since the company’s last update in December. The chatbot was released to the public eight months ago.


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Baidu chief executive Robin Li also said Ernie Bot’s application programming interface (API) is being used to conduct tasks every day and that it has had a cumulative total of over 200 million users.

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.


Moonshot’s Kimi growing but ChatGPT tops

Recent data shows that rival domestic AI services, particularly the “Kimi” chatbot from a 12-month-old, Alibaba-backed startup 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.

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 US.

Last week, state media reported 117 large AI models have received approvals so far.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard


NOTE: This report and the headline were amended on April 23, 2024 to correct the number of people who have used Baidu’s ‘Ernie Bot’ – it has had a cumulative total of 200 million users – not 200m a day.



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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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