Shanghai: Dell Inc said on Tuesday it will partner China's top search engine Baidu Inc to develop tablet computers and mobile handsets.
Baidu offered a glimpse of its upcoming mobile operating system and launched a new mobile application platform last Friday aimed at bolstering its presence in the increasingly competitive mobile web market.
"We have a partnership with Baidu and you know we have the Streak 5 tablet, so the partnership will be in that space," said a Dell spokeswoman, adding that both firms were also cooperating on the mobile handset front.
Dell declined to give a timeline for the launch of the devices, but local media reported on Tuesday, quoting sources, that it may be as early as November.
"I don't think Baidu is targetting the low-end segment of the market, if they are there are plenty of local Chinese vendors they can work with...This could mean that Baidu may have ambitions for the international market because Dell is an international brand which they can leverage," said Sandy Shen, a Shanghai-based research director with Gartner.
Dell's Streak 5 tablet is a five-inch Android-based tablet that was discontinued in the United States last month.
Baidu declined to comment.
The Dell-Baidu partnership is one of several announced recently.
Global search leader Google announced last month it would pay $12.5 billion to acquire Motorola Mobility Holdings in a move that will put Google into a lower-margin manufacturing business and pit it against as many as 38 other handset companies that use Google's Android software.
Research in Motion, Nokia and the cable television business are emerging as potential winners after Google announced its deal.
If other handset manufacturers shy away from Google's Android system, Nokia and RIM could stand to benefit.
Pay TV companies could also be boosted if Google, which would own Motorola's set-top box business, backs down on disrupting the cable industry.
The deal is unlikely to have an impact on Apple Inc's quest for the hearts and minds of smartphone customers, analysts said. Now that Google is a direct competitor, Apple may drop some Google products in its devices.
Microsoft Corp, which has been touting its Windows software as an alternative to the operating systems of Android and Apple, views are mixed as to the deal's effects.
Android handset makers may be more willing to take a gamble on the unpopular Windows phone as an alternative, but customers show few signs of interest in Microsoft's belated attempts to find a foothold in the smartphone market.
Nokia decided earlier this year to go with Microsoft's Windows operating system instead of its MeeGo software, which is being phased out. Nokia is pinning its turnaround hopes on new Windows-based phones due later this year.
Probably the biggest deal to happen recently was the announcement from Hewlett Packard that it might spin off its PC division and kill its tablet computer.
Amazon.com is also said to be readying a tablet computer for release soon as is retooling its website to make it more tablet-friendly.
First Published: Tuesday, September 6, 2011, 16:20