Chinese internet powerhouse Baidu has opened its remote office collaboration platform, Baidu Hi, to the public from Tuesday, local tech media outlet 36Kr reported.
The company will provide free access to the whole platform to companies in Hubei province, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. Companies in other areas will have to pay for some features, including high-definition audio and video conferences, cloud-based file storage, and instant messaging, after exceeding a usage limit. Details about pricing have not been disclosed.
These services will remain free of charge to companies in Hubei until after the epidemic, Baidu told KrASIA.
Baidu Hi will help companies increase their ability to work remotely and alleviate the impact of the outbreak on enterprises and the economy, Baidu said, as millions of employees in China work remotely in an effort to contain the virus.
Previously, the platform was an internal online collaboration tool exclusively for Baidu employees.
About 200 million people in China have been working from home every day since Feb. 10 due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, according to market analysis consultancy International Data Corporation (IDC), which has called the policy “the world’s largest work from home experiment.”
Meanwhile, the main players in China’s office collaboration sector are attracting more users by offering free services. Alibaba’s DingTalk, Tencent’s WeChat Work, Huawei’s WeLink, and ByteDance’s Lark have all opened their remote working services to the public free of charge from late January.
The sudden surge in traffic has even caused temporary problems on these platforms. Alibaba’s business communication and office collaboration tool DingTalk encountered a server crash on Feb. 3 as users flooded onto the platform for online meetings. Tencent’s WeChat Work and Huawei’s WeLink experienced similar problems as well.