Baidu shares tumble as Ernie Bot disappoints

STORY: Baidu unveiled its much-anticipated AI chatbot Ernie on Thursday (March 16).

It was expected to be a major Chinese rival to Microsoft's ChatGPT.

But investors weren't impressed with Baidu's use of pre-recorded videos and the lack of a public launch.

That sent its shares sharply lower even while CEO Robin Li was speaking.

“During our initial testing internally, we experienced the capabilities of Ernie Bot, and I feel that it is not perfect yet. So why are we unveiling it today? Because the market demands it.”

Baidu said Ernie would only be open for trial to a group of users with invitation codes from Thursday.

That's in contrast to ChatGPT, which was made free to use last November,

The Chinese firm did show Ernie carrying out math calculations on Thursday.

It also spoke Chinese dialects and generated a video and image with text prompts.

Baidu's Hong Kong shares closed 6.4% lower after the presentation.

That cut $3 billion off the search engine giant's market valuation.