Baidu’s mobile operating system is no longer a rumor. It’s is real, available and imminent. Baidu Yi, is Baidu’s mobile operating system, which is built by forking Android. From the looks of it, Baidu Yi is Android well done, with its seamless cloud integration and other useful apps.
Baidu Yi has Integrated voice search, Maps, Places app called Shen Bian and a music app called Ting. From the promo video (see below), Baidu promises to be an integrated and self-sufficient operating system customized for Chinese tastes. Something Google’s Android can never do. Since Baidu Yi is an Android fork, the regular Android apps on Android market will work.
Baidu is a premier search engine in China with close to 80% market share and, much to the chagrin of Google, it will be the default search engine on all Baidu devices. Baidu Yi powered devices are rumored to be coming as early as this November and Dell is chosen as the manufacturing partner.
The most puzzling piece of the story is Baidu’s choice of Dell as a device partner. Dell is very strong in PC’s and laptops. Unfortunately for Baidu, that’s where Dell’s supremacy ends. When it comes to ultra mobile devices like tablets and smartphones, Dell didn’t make a mark. Dell experimented with Dell Streak, which turned out be a case study. Other Dell devices like Dell Aero, Dell Venue, Dell XCD28 and Dell XCD35 all turned out to be me-too devices, without any distinction.
Given Dell’s track record in the mobile space, Baidu’s choice is intriguing. May be Dell will stage a comeback by bringing out white label products and probably gain some insights from its partnership with Baidu. That’ show HTC, Huawei and ZTE have achieved success. Right now that looks more of a hope and less of a certainty.
What does it mean to Android?
When I discussed about 5 imminent threats to Android on this blog, Android forks isn’t one of them. Now Android Forks appears to be a bigger threat than the 5 threats already mentioned. Android forks are proliferating, and the sad part about these proliferations is, they are turning out to be good and in some cases much better than Google’s Android. That is a serious problem for Google. China is a big technology market to be ignored by any company, let alone Google. Apple is making great strides to appease Chinese customers and is opening up its stores across China. For Google’s part, it seems lost. First it lost the search engine share to Baidu when it moved to Hong Kong because of privacy concerns, now it has all but lost the mobile market (predominantly search), one more time to Baidu.
Baidu is turning out to be Google’s nemesis.
Watch the promo video of Baidu Yi