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Amazon partners with Baidu to launch Fire Tablet in China

Amazon announced earlier today plans to launch its inexpensive Fire tablet in China, as it tries to compete against the top tablet makers in the region.

The Fire tablet will come pre-loaded with Baidu apps, including its search engine, video player, and other mobile apps. We suspect that, in return, Baidu will promote the Fire tablet in China, though that was not confirmed in the related press release.

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Amazon is promoting English language learning and its large Kindle library as the two main features on the Fire tablet. That might be a tough sell, since Chinese mobile owners tend to enjoy video, gaming, and shopping more than reading. Amazon might also be targeting students and schools with the Fire tablet.

Baidu and Amazon both have something to gain from this launch, if it succeeds. In Baidu’s case, it might gain mobile market share for its search engine, which has been losing ground to Qihoo 360 and Shenma. Baidu’s video service might also see an increase in popularity, as it fights against Youku Tudou and Sohu for market share.

In Amazon’s case, the Fire tablet might draw more customers to its own e-commerce service. Amazon currently sells 1.5-percent of all products sold online in China, while Alibaba sells the vast majority through its Tmall and Taobao services. If Amazon pre-installs Twitch.TV on the Fire tablet, we might also see a rise in Chinese viewership on the streaming service.

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The Fire tablet will be available for 500 RMB ($77) in China, a little bit more than its current price in the United States and Europe. That might sound like a good deal, but in China there are plenty of no-brand tablets that cost even less, run Android, and have similar performance.

And as if that wasn’t a steep enough hill to climb, Chinese manufacturers Lenovo and Huawei are the two major brands making gains in the tablet market.