Baidu stings Google with China carrier search deal

Baidu search will be pre-installed on 3G China Unicom phones

Chinese search engine Baidu dealt Google a blow on Monday as it announced that many of its popular services will be pre-installed on next-generation mobile phones from a local carrier.

Baidu services including its Internet search, free music download search, and message forum will all be pre-installed on 3G handsets from China Unicom, Baidu said Monday. Baidu will also provide search capabilities for mobile Internet Web sites run by the carrier, which plans to launch the iPhone in China this month.

Google and Baidu together hold nearly all China's Internet search market, but Baidu is by far the more dominant player, accounting for around three out of four online searches done in China, according to local consultancies. The rivalry between the two search engines has spread to cover mobile phones as China's carriers roll out 3G services this year and more users begin surfing the Web on handsets.

Baidu services are also embedded in a value-added services platform run by China Telecom, another carrier. Google's main mobile search deal in China is with China Mobile, whose music and application platform uses Google search. It was not immediately clear if iPhones from China Unicom would carry the Baidu applications.

China's three carriers are all expanding their 3G networks this year and racing to attract users for them. Chinese mobile users performed over 270 million Web searches on their phones in the second quarter this year, more than twice as much as in the same period a year earlier, according to local research company Analysys International. Google and Baidu each took about 26 percent of the mobile searches.

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