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Dell, Baidu team up for tablets, phones for China

The PC maker and the Chinese search engine are working together to create smartphones and tablets for the Chinese market.

Dell is partnering with Chinese search engine Baidu to create smartphones and tablets for Chinese consumers, according to a story today from Reuters.

The mobile devices will run Baidu software based on the company's Baidu Yi mobile platform, which supports Android-based apps, a Dell spokeswoman told Bloomberg.

The move is seen as an attempt by Dell to gain more traction in a market of 900 million mobile customers, and one that's already dominated by Apple and Lenovo.

But at least one analyst is dubious about the strategy on Dell's part.

"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. "Ultimately in China, I still think it is Apple's game, still for the iPad and iPhone."

Apple recently grabbed the top spot for overall sales in China away from Lenovo, thanks to strong demand for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac computers, according to the Financial Times. However, Lenovo still holds a commanding slice of the Chinese PC market at 31.7 percent, noted the company's CEO Yang Yuanqing.

Related stories:
• Dell Streak 10 Pro debuts in China
• Microsoft signs search pact with China's Baidu
• Baidu launches browser with Chrome-like design

Dell didn't reveal a timeframe for the new mobile devices, but some media reports said it could be as soon as November, Reuters added. The company recently released its new Streak 10 Pro 10-inch tablet in China, following comments to CNET by Dell vice president John Thode in June that launching a device in China "avoids a bunch of the inhibitors and barriers to success that we've seen in the U.S. market."

Baidu leads the search engine market in China with around 61 percent of all searches as of the second quarter, according to Chinese research site iResearch (English translation).

Dell did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the new partnership.