Dell to make smartphones, tablets for Baidu Yi

Baidu Yi (vid still)

Computer maker Dell will be partnering with China’s Baidu search engine to make smartphones and tablets based on Baidu’s new Android-based Yi operating system, according to Reuters. Neither company has announced any timeframes for the devices, but Chinese media as reported that the first Dell/Baidu devices could be on the market as soon as November.

Baidu Yi is Baidu’s new entry into the mobile operating system market. Based on Android, Baidu Yi features integrated Baidu apps and services. Baidu has a commanding share of the Chinese search market; the idea behind is to offer smartphones and tablets with Baidu services fully integrated—including maps, music, and recommendations—rather than merely offered as apps for the Android platform.

The move wouldn’t be the first time Dell has turned to China to launch mobile products: the company has been steadily working to increase its retail presence in the country, and recently has taken to launching its smartphones and tablet products in China, in many cases eschewing the North American market entirely. So far, Dell has failed to capitalize on the smartphone and tablet market, despite some high-profile early entries with its Streak line of tablets. Dell executives have described the Chinese market as having fewer roadblocks than mature mobile markets like Europe and North America.

At the moment, Apple and Lenovo are the leading forces in the Chinese smartphone and tablet markets, with Apple reportedly in talks with China Mobile (the nation’s largest mobile carrier) about launching the iPhone. Apple’s total sales (including iPads and iPhones) recently eclipsed Lenovo’s sales in China, although Lenovo is still gearing up to get serious about the Chinese smartphone and tablet markets.

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