Apple to add Baidu support to iOS

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Apple products are already wildly popular in China. Reports of local search support being added to iOS may just take that popularity to a whole new level.

According to news site Tech in Asia, reporting via Chinese-language site Sina Tech, Apple will begin integrating Baidu’s search function into iOS next month.

Baidu is the dominant search power in China and it currently holds around 84% of the Asian superpower’s internet search revenue.

The new implementation will reportedly give Safari users the option of setting Baidu rather than Google as their default search engine.

It should be cautioned, however, that neither Apple nor Baidu have confirmed the reports. Tech in Asia does think integrating Baidu into iOS would make sense given that the Cupertino-based tech giant has already implemented Baidu search into the next iteration of OS X.

Baidu’s cloud and mobile chief Li Mingyuan reportedly also hinted at a special relationship between the two companies during the recent launch of Baidu’s cloud storage service.

A deal would also be a further blow to Google in China, where it relied heavily on the country’s love affair with all things Apple to mitigate its low search revenue share.

The speculation comes as Apple gets ready to launch its new iPad in China. As was the case with the iPhone 4S, the roll out is expected to be a long one, as the device has to be granted a number of licenses that allow it to be sold in the country.

The latest rumour to emerge from Chinese tech site SinaTech, is that approval has been granted for the Wi-Fi version of the device, but not the LTE version.

When the LTE version does launch, it will only support 3G as China has no LTE network.

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