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Intel and Baidu join forces as they scramble to keep up with mobile growth

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Intel is teaming up with leading Chinese search engine Baidu to develop software for China’s mobile internet market, partnering on a joint-innovation lab. Chinese companies manufacture the most PCs and smartphones in the world, making the venture a no-brainer for the US semiconductor maker. Meanwhile, Baidu’s product development has been struggling to keep up with the pace of Chinese take-up of smartphones and tablets. This may also boost the prospects of its global expansion.

This is an opportunity for Intel to convert Chinese developers to its products, since the developers will be using Intel-powered devices to test software. The chip-makers has lagged in developing for mobile devices and tablets, a market now dominated by ARM Holdings (whose servers, incidentally, Baidu uses for its cloud storage app, Baidu Pan.) Intel has made some inroads with Chinese smartphone makers like ZTE and Lenovo, the latter of which uses Intel’s “Clover Trail+” processor in its K900 smartphone.

Intel hopes the partnership will lead to the development of Chinese apps with voice-command and face-recognition features. (Perhaps Intel was encouraged by Baidu Eye, the search giant’s Google Glass-like device.)

The partnership will give Baidu a chance to improve the design of its mobile apps, which should broaden the take-up of its search engine and maps products. Baidu unveiled its Android-based mobile platform, called Baidu Cloud, in 2011. However, the results have so far been mostly lackluster, and it’s only pre-installed on six devices at present, according to InfoWorld. Partnering with Baidu should also help it expand its apps internationally, and boost the global reach of its market for apps that run on Google’s Android mobile software. In February, the company launched cloud development tools in English, in a bid to attract developers outside of China.

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