Baidu is developing a cloud-based Smartphone platform they call Baidu YI. (Translates to “Easy”). The Baidu YI platform looks to compete other services like Google Android and Apple’s iOS, and put Baidu solidly in the Mobile game.
China’s Mobile Internet users approached 233 million in 2010, and is projected to reach 957 million by 2014. To get some perspective, the total population of both the European Union and the United States combined was roughly 800 million last year. China dominates Mobile usage around the world.
The Baidu Yi OS is focused on Search. Smartphones that run Yi will boot up a search box within seconds of turning on the phone, while the oher components will load in the background, so that users will be able to perform a web searches instantly. The YI system will also offers to provide up to 180 GB of Cloud Storage space.
Baidu isn’t the only Chinese company looking to get in on the Mobile OS game. Other players like Hangzhou-based Alibaba and Shenzhen-based Huawei have announced similar cloud-based platforms. In response a Baidu VP Wang Jing reported to the Financial Times, “To us, cloud computing is much more natural than to an e-commerce company or a telecom equipment maker because we have the capability to handle data, just as Google has, that’s why they’re so good at it.”
Baidu Yi is based on a version of Android you see in China called Ophone, a fork of Android, whicheffectively removes Google from the picture.
The core Android operating system is made up of a Linux kernel, which is licensed under GPL, and uses Apache middleware and user stacks.
Other major components of the upper layers, such as the Android Market, require a license from Google, and most Chinese carriers gladly do without those core Google software products and opt to integrate their own or third-party replacements.
Mr. Wang also mentioned that “it is possible that we [will] launch our own operating system in the future.”
Baidu founder Robin Li made mention of the new YI OS as compared to Apple’s iOS, “Right now when you power on an iPhone, it takes 45 seconds before you can do anything,” he said. “In the future, one second, you turn on the device, and you can start using the box. That’s our mission for the future of the internet.” Li’s plan is to build an OS that focuses on search as the basis for everything. “The goal is to let people become increasingly dependent on the Baidu Box.”