Apple Reportedly Adding Baidu to iPhone in China

Apple in ChinaApple is reportedly adding the Baidu search engine to iPhones in China, according to unnamed sources at Bloomberg. Baidu is the largest search service in China, handling approximately 80% of internet search queries, and the news could boost business for both companies in that market.

Currently, Chinese customers can download a separate app for the Baidu search service. The new arrangement would likely make it an optional, but probably not the default, search service for iPhones and iPads. Similarly, this past February, Apple added Baidu search service support to its latest upgrade of the Mac operating system.

Baidu would provide an alternative to Google which competes with Apple in smartphone software and for mobile advertising dollars, or Chinese Yuan, in this case. Google accounts for 16.6 percent of revenue for search engines in the Chinese market, while Baidu took in 78.5 percent.

If accurate, this would also be one more area where Apple is divorcing itself from dependence on Google. Google has had some problems in China in the past. In 2010, the company made a decision not to comply with Chinese censorship requirements, and instead redirected Chinese users to its Hong Kong site.

China has the largest population of any country in the world, and that population includes a rapidly growing middle class with disposable income to spend. It is a market that Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has identified as having potential for development.

Last quarter, China accounted for 20 percent of Apple’s sales, making it the largest market outside of the United States. Earlier this week, it became know that Apple had applied for permits to open new new retail stores in the market.