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Dell Inc is partnering China’s top search engine, Baidu Inc, to develop tablet computers and mobile phones, targeting the Chinese market now dominated by Apple Inc and Lenovo devices.
China is one of the fastest growing markets for tablets and is home to a little more than 900 million mobile phone subscribers. Analysts said the tie-up could be Dell’s way to revive its flagging tablet business.
“I suspect this is just Dell, which 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,” said Michael Clendenin, managing director of technology consultancy RedTech Advisors.
“Ultimately in China, I still think it is Apple’s game, still for the iPad and iPhone.”
Baidu is one of China’s best known brands and a mobile phone or tablet carrying the Baidu name will be able to leverage on that recognition all over China, analysts said.
Dell declined to give a timeline for the launch of the devices, but local media, quoting sources, reported on Tuesday it may be as early as November.
“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 on Tuesday, adding both companies were also cooperating on the mobile handset front.
Dell’s Streak 5 tablet is a five-inch Android-based tablet that was discontinued in the United States last month.
The Dell tie-up underscores Baidu’s efforts to widen its product offerings and leverage its near 80 per cent share of the country’s search market, the world’s largest.
“All PC brands are trying to differentiate themselves from each other in the mobile space, and Dell’s tie-up with Baidu may give it first-mover advantage in the China market,” said Hanna Chang, an analyst with SinoPac Securities in Taipei.
Baidu launched a new mobile application platform last week and offered a glimpse of its upcoming mobile operating system which it hopes will serve a growing number of users accessing the internet from smartphones and tablet computers.