Dell is hoping to breathe some new life into its flagging tablet and smartphone business by partnering with Chinese search giant, Baidu.
The partnership will see Dell launch tablets and smartphones in China powered by a heavily-tweaked version of Google’s Android OS, with pretty much all visible vestiges of Google disappearing from the interface. In the place of Google search and its native apps, Baidu will be able to put its own software.
Chinese search giant Baidu had announced earlier this week that it was developing versions of Android for its own use, and Dell is the first hardware company to announce a partnership with it.
"We have a partnership with Baidu and you know we have the Streak 5 tablet, so the partnership will be in that space," a Dell spokeswoman told Reuters today. The Streak has been discontinued in the US this month due to poor sales, though Samsung obviously believes the 5in form factor has a future, launching the Galaxy Note at IFA last week.
With over 900 million mobile phone subscribers and one of the fastest growing tablet markets in the world, China is certainly an attractive market for manufacturers. Currently the market is dominated by Apple and Lenovo.
However, despite the large market, analysts are not too hopeful for Dell’s prospects: "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 the Guardian
Dell’s Streak 7 went on sale in the UK earlier this year but has failed to make an impact on the tablet market. Dell decided to launch the 10in version only in China, pointing to the importance it is putting on that market.
We’ve already seen Microsoft team up with Baidu to share search results, and now Dell will be hoping that the search website’s 80 per cent share of the Chinese search market will transfer to success in the smartphone and tablet market.