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What Value Can SwiftScribe Bring to Baidu?

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Baidu (BIDU) has launched a transcription tool called SwiftScribe. The tool uses artificial intelligence to convert audio files into text, and it does this work incredibly quickly.

According to Baidu, it takes SwiftScribe around ten seconds to transcribe an audio file that’s 30 seconds long. The tool will take 20 minutes to transcribe an audio file that’s one hour long. It usually takes a professional between four and six hours to transcribe hour-long audio files. SwiftScribe could significantly transform professional transcription speeds.

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A perfect tool for freelancers

SwiftScribe could help professional transcribers, especially freelancers, to transcribe more files so that they can earn more money from their work.

Baidu is currently offering SwiftScribe free of charge, but it has plans to monetize it in the future. A premium version of SwiftScribe that’s available via subscription could help Baidu grow its non-advertising revenue. The company generated revenue of ~$2.6 billion in 4Q16, with most of it coming from the advertising space. The chart above shows Baidu’s quarterly revenue trend.

Overreliance on advertising budgets

Though the company remains the biggest Internet search provider in China (FXI) (MCHI), controlling nearly 80% of the market, it faces growing competition from Alibaba (BABA) and JD.com (JD) for merchants’ digital advertising budgets.

Tough competition for digital ad spending is forcing majority-ad-funded companies such as Alphabet (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB) to think outside the box with products such as digital payment services and virtual reality devices. SwiftScribe is one of Baidu’s revenue bets outside of online advertising.

SwiftScribe is currently only enabled to support the transcription of audio clips, but Baidu is working to bring video transcription on board as well in the coming months.

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