Dell Plans Tablets, Phones With Chinese Giant Baidu

Dell hopes a partnership with leading Chinese search engine Baidu will boost its tablets and mobile phones

Dell has moved to prop up its ailing tablet business by joining forces with China’s largest search engine Baidu to target the Chinese tablet and mobile phone market.

Baidu is one of China’s best known brands and a Dell tablet carrying its name would be recognised all over the country. However, some analysts are picking up a sense of desperation from Dell, reports Reuters. Dell makes the small-format 5  inch Streak tablet (regarded by some a a large smartphone), and a 7 inch version, as well as the Venue Pro smartphone running windows Phone 7.

“I suspect this is just Dell, who has a lot of problems on the mobile and tablet front, grasping at straws to get any kind of publicity that it can to make its product more attractive,” Michael Clendenin, managing director of technology consultancy RedTech Advisors, told Reuters.

He also said the market in China for tablets and mobiles very much belongs to Apple. Its iPhone and iPad, as well as its brand, are wildly popular in China as evidenced by this summer’s reports of forgeries of entire Apple stores.

Mobile cooperation

Baidu declined to comment but a Dell spokesman told Reuters that the partnership will be in the tablet space, suggesting adaptions of Dell’s Streak products, and the two companies will also cooperate on phones. The Android-based 5 inch Streak 5 was launched later in the US, and was discontinued there last month.

For Baidu’s part, it is keen to improve its share of China’s mobile market. The Financial Times reported last week that Baidu had took the first steps towards its own mobile OS with a search based software platform called Yi (meaning ‘easy’) which runs on Android.

At the time the Financial Times reported that Baidu’s share of the Chinese search market, the world’s largest, was 70 per cent by revenues compared with less than 20 per cent for Google, according to Beijing-based research firm Analysys. But its share of the mobile search market is apparently much lower at just 35 per cent. google operates at a disadvantage, serving Chinese users from its Google China subsidiary in Hong Kong.

Dell’s promised “Business Tablet”, a 10 inch Windows 7 based device, is expected to be launched in the UK this autumn despite concerns that a launch so close to the possible emergence of Windows 8 would render any such gadget obsolete relatively quickly