updated 05:42 pm EDT, Tue May 15, 2012
China's search giant rolls out first smartphone
Chinese search giant Baidu has released its first smartphone, as it was rumored to be preparing to do last week. The Changhong H5018 is built by Foxconn and is powered by Baidu's own mobile platform, Baidu Cloud.
The Changhong H5018 features a 3.5-inch 480x320 touchscreen, 3G connectivity, and a three-megapixel camera. Other features include a 650 MHz MTK6573 processor, along with 100GB of free cloud storage on Wangpan, a Chinese cloud storage service. Priced under 1,000 yuan ($158), the device will compete with low-cost handsets made by Huawei, ZTE, Lenovo, and other Chinese firms.
The Baidu Cloud Smart Terminal platform, which powers the H5018, is a forked version of Android, bringing together the core technologies of Baidu's cloud offerings. In addition to cloud storage, the H5018 will have access to location-based services, cloud-powered voice-recognition and handwriting input, and a range of apps on the Baidu Cloud Store. Baidu intends for its Cloud Smart Terminal to function as a platform sitting atop all operating systems, and has plans to bring the system to Windows Phone and iOS.
News of an impending Baidu handset launch broke last week, with some suspecting a partnership with Dell, a company with which Baidu had previously partnered on an older operating system. The move makes the 356-million-user Chinese handset market even more competitive, as Baidu joins not just Chinese handset makers, but also Google and Apple in trying to carve out a space in the lucrative Chinese space.