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Baidu Preparing $160 Smartphone Running Custom Android ROM

Baidu is China’s own Google rival, that started out as a search engine and evolved into cloud services, email and even socializing. In September 2011 the company even came up with an OS (Baidu Yi), that looks and feels like Android, but with Baidu equivalent services. Now they’re preparing a cheap smartphone based on that OS.

The handset will be made by Foxconn, it will pack a 3.5 inch display and it has no release date just yet. We could see the product in stores by the year end and odds are very small that this will ever leave China. Baidu will most likely advertise the hell out of this product and reach impressive sales. Also, with the public already fond of the Baidu services, it will be nice to have them in the pocket with a strong integration of the email, social networking and other services of the company into the new smartphones.

Nokia should take this as bad news, since Baidu knows the local market very well and that low pricing would kills the Finns’ lower end Windows Phone offers and Symbian as well, maybe even the S40 ones. I guess we’ll have to wait and see what the appeal of the product will be and how the carriers get involved in this project.