Baidu unveils smartphone with cloud services
Chinese handset runs Cloud Smart Terminal on top of a largely Google-free Android fork
Published: 16 May, 2012
Chinese web services major Baidu is increasingly a thorn in Google's side on the search front, as its homeland accounts for a rising percentage of the world's internet usage, and it sets its sights on other countries too. Now the company is carrying out its threat to move in on the smartphone platform, launching the first handset to run its Cloud Smart Terminal operating system.
Baidu has discussed a range of plans to drive its services, Google-style, by controlling a mobile platform. In common with other emerging mobile web systems like Mozilla's Boot2Gecko, its offering is heavily geared to cloud applications and content streaming, which will make it suitable for a wide range of browser enabled gadgets, even those with limited local storage.
The first device, the Changhong H5018, is an entry level smartphone priced at under CNY1,000 ($158). It is reportedly made by Foxconn, Apple's manufacturing partner, and will initially be sold only in China, though Baidu does have international ambitions for its new platform and associated services. The handset will come with a range of cloud-based offerings including 100Gbytes of online storage on Baidu's Wangpan server, as well as its location/maps and music services.
Cloud Smart Terminal is an extension of Baidu's Yi operating system, which launched last September as a heavily modified Android fork centered on Baidu's own built-in services. However, the company made it clear that using the Android kernel was a short cut to the market, and versions of Cloud Smart Terminal would in future appear to layer on other OSs such as Windows Phone and even iOS (though Apple's cooperation seems unlikely).