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Baidu Releases Mobile OS, Dell Making Hardware

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Baidu, China's largest search engine, has released a mobile operating system built on top of Android. The Baidu OS will be getting hardware from Dell and possibly others.

The Baidu Yi OS

China is the world's second largest smartphone market, and it's currently dominated by Apple. However, Chinese companies are starting to enter the scene, with the Alibaba Group – a Chinese internet company – showcasing the AliYun OS in late July of this year. It's of little surprise that Baidu, China's leading search engine, would follow in their footsteps with the announcement of Baidu Yi.

The Baidu Yi operating system was built around the Android OS code (which, as open source technology, is fair game). According to early reports, Baidu has primarily re-worked top-level applications. This includes Baidu maps, a Baidu e-reader, and a mobile version of Ting (the Baidu-owned music service).

The Baidu OS may be just around the corner, too. According to sources, Yi may be released as early as November. It's likely that the device itself will come from the first hardware manufacturer that's confirmed to be on board: Dell.

The Dell Partnership

A Dell spokesperson stated that they had been brought on board with Baidu's smartphone project. This was confirmed by Baidu spokesperson Kaiser Kuo. Kuo also indicated that there were other hardware partners, but declined to state exactly who they were.

Dell is a logical choice for a Baidu Yi partner. Having already worked on both tablets and smartphones for Android and having a substantial manufacturing capability, Dell should be able to create solid hardware and scale production to meet Baidu Yi's success. Dell is also becoming a more common brand name in China, with Dell's Chinese sales growing by 22 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Meanwhile, Dell will be able to leverage that improving brand for additional hardware sales and an increased presence in the mobile market. "Dell has got nothing to lose, said Sandy Shen of Gartner. The most likely outcome for the company is "momentum for their mobile products."

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