Dell to Use New Baidu Yi Mobile OS, Launch in November? [UPDATED]


The Dell Streak 5 - a contender for running Baidu Yi.

[Update – After reaching out to Baidu, it’s clear this is a very general statement made by Dell about working with Baidu on various other projects – it’s not a specific deal to put the Yi platform on Dell devices. Official partner announcements will be made at a later date; nothing is official yet. I’ve updated the post to reflect this.]

After Baidu’s unveiling of its Android-based mobile OS last Friday, we have an official announcement word from Dell that it’s teaming up with China’s biggest search engine for mobiles and tablets – but that doesn’t necessarily mean it pertains to Baidu Yi. Nonethless, Dell might well be the first official partner for Yi. The Chinese press is reporting a rumor that November is the earliest likely date for Baidu Yi to appear on devices in the shops.

Quoted by Reuters today, a Dell spokeswoman says:

We have a partnership with Baidu and you know we have the Streak 5 tablet, so the partnership will be in that space.

If Dell turns out to be a Yi partner, it’s likely it’ll also bring the new Android-based platform to its own smartphones as well. Dell has been particularly active in China with its phones since 2009 when it launched the Mini 3i, which was very much designed for business-oriented Chinese smartphone buyers. The Dell Streak 5 (pictured at the top, running regular Android 2.2) is one of many such devices that could have Baidu Yi easily slipped inside of them.

A screenshot from a Baidu video of its new mobile OS. Pictured is the SMS app in use.

Looking beyond November, it’s probable that other partners will run with Yi – possibly HTC. Motorola is theoretically possible – although it has been bought by Google, there’d surely be no conflict in it running a licensed fork of Android, even if it is made by a search engine market rival.

Until then, let us know what you think of Dell’s phones in the comments. Would they make a good vehicle for Yi, or would a cooler brand like HTC have a bigger impact?

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