Baidu beats forecasts ahead of chatbot launch

STORY: Baidu is gearing up for the full launch of its new AI chatbot, dubbed Ernie.

It was partially unveiled in March, and now just awaits approval from Beijing watchdogs.

On Tuesday (May 16) the search engine giant said Ernie would be steadily incorporated into all its businesses.

Though no timeline was set for the move.

Chief Executive Robin Li said the firm had been engaging closely with regulators.

The outlook came as Baidu reported forecast-beating results for the first quarter.

Revenue jumped 10% to over $4.5 billion.

Net income was also well above expectations.

The company has benefited as the end of lockdowns saw business momentum recover in China.

Data shows consumers and firms have both lifted spending.

That saw the country’s economy grow a faster-than-expected 4.5% over the first three months of the year.

Li said sectors including travel and healthcare had benefited, with some markets already above pre-health crisis levels.