Baidu has signed a partnership with China Unicom to provide wireless search for the carrier’s 3G mobile subscribers. This is said to be a move to fend off Google Inc’s increasing presence in the world’s largest mobile population.
Baidu will preinstall its services, including text, image, MP3 and news search, in China Unicom’s 3G mobile phones. It will also provide search services for mobile internet websites run by the carrier, which plans to launch the iPhone in China this month.
But a China Unicom spokesman said the deal with Baidu was not exclusive. He said Google’s services preinstalled in the iPhone would not be impacted by the partnership.
Google has been striving to promote its mobile search service such as Google Maps to Chinese mobile phone users in recent years.
In 2007, Google announced a partnership with China Mobile to provide mobile search for the country’s largest cell phone carrier. It also said last week that it plans to launch Chinese-language voice search service to Chinese smart-phone users in the next several weeks.
According to figures from domestic research firm Analysys International, Google is still lagging behind market leader Baidu, which takes over 60% of the search market share. But in China’s mobile search market, Google’s share reached 26.6% in the second quarter of this year just a touch higher than Baidu.
China Daily reports that Zhou Liqian, an analyst from Everbright Securities, said in an earlier research note that China Unicom might take up over half of China’s 3G market by 2011.
China’s internet users totaled 338 million by the end of June, of which mobile internet users increased 32.1% to 155 million.