Is Baidu about to enter the browser wars?

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Chinese search giant Baidu is reportedly planning to acquire large stake in browser company UCWeb, with the rumours not dissimilar to those linking Facebook and Opera.

According to Dow Jones report, a person familiar with the matter said the two companies were still only “exploring possibilities”. The report does however follow rumours that Baidu was looking to buy the company outright.

If the deal goes through, it’ll be something of a coup for UCWeb. Its mobile browser is already used by 8.3% of the mobile web and is now more popular than BlackBerry.

Apple’s recently announced support for Baidu and other Chinese social networks was big news on its own. A partnership between Baidu and UC browser, with Apple integration in mind, could see the two completely dominate the country’s mobile space.

That’s hardly surprising when you consider that earlier this year Baidu CEO Robin Li said that’s exactly what his company wants to do:

“We do think mobile will become a very important channel to distribute our products and that has increasingly become true over the past quarter. And we think during the coming year, mobile will represent an ever larger percentage of our total traffic.

In the past, we have not spent any resources in monetizing the mobile traffic. But starting from this year, we will do something to figure out how to better serve our customers on our mobile platform.”

A stake in UC could also help Baidu increase its presence outside of China. According to The Next Web, the browser company is looking to have 100-million downloads in India by 2015.

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