Baidu ends support for Android platform

The Baidu Cloud OS represented the company's efforts to integrate more services with Android phones

Baidu's efforts to bring its own customized Android ROM to Chinese smartphones appears to be fizzling out as the company shifts resources away from the project.

On Wednesday, the team behind the Baidu Cloud OS, a suite of tools and interfaces designed for Android phones and incorporated into the company's Android ROM, announced it was saying goodbye to the platform.

"Because of a company business adjustment, we have no choice but to painfully decide to suspend updates and support to the Baidu Cloud OS," the team said in an official forum posting.

While the rest of Baidu's consumer cloud business will still be in operation, the Cloud OS and ROM design unit has been folded into a new company, the team added in another posting. It did not offer details about the new company.

The Baidu Cloud OS, launched in 2012, marked the Chinese search giant's attempt to bring more company services to smartphones.

Given that Baidu remains China's largest search engine, the company's search bar is already pre-installed on most Android phones sold in the country. In addition, it has a whole range of other company apps, relating to mapping, Internet browsing, security and more.

The Baidu Cloud OS, however, sought to take the integration a step further, in the form of a customized ROM loaded with company services. Based on Android, it was initially pre-installed on several smartphone models made by Baidu partners. But in the end, the platform failed to become widely adopted.

Android is by far the most popular mobile OS in the country, but due to its strained ties with the Chinese government, Google has yet to officially bring its popular mobile apps and services to China.

As a result, handset makers selling to China typically bundle their phones with local services from Baidu and other Internet giants including Alibaba Group and Tencent.

Baidu declined to comment further, except to point to the statements offered by its Cloud OS team. Despite the failure of the Baidu Cloud OS to gain traction, the company's mobile business has been growing. Last year, its mobile Internet traffic exceeded that of its PC Internet traffic, in a sign that more Chinese are relying on smartphones to surf the Web.

Outside of Baidu, e-commerce giant Alibaba has also been targeting mobile users, with its own Linux-based operating system called YunOS. Although the operating system has yet to take off, Alibaba has said it expects the software to pay off in the long-term.

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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