The Skinny blog is written by Rick Smith, editor and co-founder of WRAL Tech Wire and business editor of WRAL.com.
RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – If a news report from Bloomberg is correct, Lenovo’s battle to protect its home turf in China as part of its attack and defend global strategy from Apple could be intensifying.
Bloomberg is reporting today that Apple is striking a deal with China-based search giant Baidu through which Baidu technology would be incorporated into Apple’s iPhone.
By adding Baidu, Apple not only would partner with the company that dominates China’s search market but also strengthen its hand against Lenovo, which launched its own lineup of smartphones in part to counter Apple’s growing presence in that market.
Apple also would avoid dealing with Google, which is involved in an ongoing censorship dispute with the Chinese government.
An Apple-Baidu deal could also be extended to Apple’s iPad tablets. Apple recently received approval to begin selling 3G iPads in the world’s largest consumer market.
Lenovo, which maintains its executive headquarters in Morrisville, is rolling out new tablets in a bid to compete with the iPads in the fastest growing PC market segment. New models were announced last week. This week, Lenovo also introduced new netbooks.
The world’s No. 2 PC maker already faces a hype fight with Apple in its China homeland where every Apple product announcement triggers frenzied buying and Apple stores are just about the hottest place to shop. (Read more here.)
Some highlights from the Bloomberg report:
“Apple Inc. plans to add Baidu Inc.’s search engine on iPhones in China, part of a push to broaden its services and user base in the world’s most-populous nation, according to two people with knowledge of the matter,” Bloomberg said.
“The agreement to add Baidu, China’s largest search engine, to the lineup of Web tools on the iPhone could be announced as early as next week …
“A deal with Baidu, which handles about 80 percent of China’s Internet search queries, fits with a plan by Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook to gain a bigger toehold in the largest mobile-phone market. It also gives users an alternative to Google Inc., which competes with Apple in the market for mobile software and advertising.”
“Baidu accounted for 78.5 percent of China’s search-engine market by revenue in the first quarter, compared with 16.6 percent for Google, according to research company Analysys International.
“China accounted for 20 percent of Apple’s sales last quarter and Cook has said there’s “a lot more opportunity” there as the company rolls out new products and adds new distributors of the iPhone.”
Indeed. How will Lenovo react?