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Dell chums up with Baidu for China smartphone charge

Reckons 200 million registered users can't be wrong

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Dell is partnering with China's Baidu on smartphones and tablets as its fortunes start to flag in Western markets.

On Friday, Baidu, China's most popular search engine, announced its Android-based software platform Baidu Yi for smartphones and Dell is shaping up to be its first hardware partner.

"We can confirm our partnership with Baidu for our smartphones in China through our participation in Baidu's Mobile Terminal Union," Dell Singapore spokeswoman Adeline Lee told The Reg.

She refused to give a timeline for the launch of any devices, but sources told local media that it could be as early as November, Reuters reported.

Dell hasn't had much luck with its Android devices so far in Western markets, dropping its Streak 5 from the US in August, and is no doubt hoping that China's gigantic pool of mobile users has room for its products.

Although Apple's Tim Cook has said the first three months of 2011 saw iPhone sales in "Greater China" grow around 250 per cent, the fruity firm only held 8.3 per cent of the smartphone market by the end of 2010, according to Beijing beancounter Analysys International. So, while the popularity of the Great White Phone is on the up, there's still plenty of space in China's technology-loving hearts for some new gadgets.

If any company can stall the Jobsian revolution in its tracks, it's probably Baidu, one of China's most popular brands and pretty much the only search engine since Google made its high-profile exit last year. And although Baidu Yi is Android-based, Baidu execs haven't ruled out developing their own operating system for smartphones. Dell is similarly flexible when it comes to OS, with devices loaded with Android and Windows on the market.

CEO Robin Li said last week that Baidu currently has 200 million registered users, while China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has said that the country has 900 million mobile phone users – the kind of eye-watering figures that could encourage more firms to hitch their wagon to Baidu. ®

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