Tech in Asia points to a new report from Chinese site Sina.com claiming that Apple has reached a deal with Baidu to add the Chinese search engine as an option on its iOS browser as soon as next month.
Apparently, Baidu’s cloud and mobile chief Li Mingyuan hinted at this during the launch of Baidu’s cloud storage service last week, saying that the company already had a comprehensive cooperation agreement with Apple in China.
The implementation would give Safari users on iOS the option of setting Baidu — rather than Google — as their default search engine.
It is not clear whether Baidu would appear as the Apple-set default search engine in iOS, although it seems that many Chinese users would prefer it to Google given Baidu's 80% share of the search market in the country.
Such a move would provide another means by which Apple could reduce its reliance on Google within in its iOS products. The company has been shifting to some non-Google mapping services and there have been occasional rumors that Apple has considered making Microsoft's Bing the default search engine for iOS.
A deal to make Baidu the default search engine for iOS in China would also be another step in Apple's efforts to increase support for Chinese users as it seeks to continue its momentum in the rapidly-growing market there. Apple earlier this month added China Telecom as its second iPhone carrier in the country, and its forthcoming OS X Mountain Lion will also include enhanced support for Chinese users including adding Baidu as a search engine option in Safari.