Reports surfaced in China that claim Apple plans to integrate Baidu into iOS next month as the country’s possible default search function—suggesting iOS aims to become less dependent on Google’s services.

According to Chinese news website Sina Tech (machine-translation):

Sina Technology News on March 26 morning news, according to informed sources, Apple iOS operating system next month will be formally introduced Baidu search, Baidu and Apple between cooperation component in the China region.

Google’s Susan Creighton revealed last fall that two-thirds of the Mountain View, Calif.-based Company’s mobile search comes from Apple iOS devices.

Meanwhile, recent speculation claims Apple is moving to an in-house Mapping solution that would replace Google Maps. The firm also recently removed its publish to YouTube option in QuickTime for Mountain lion. If these latest rumors deem true, Apple’s move to Baidu would further indicate a significant effort to reduce Google’s presence in iOS.

With that said, the move to Baidu might be more than a snub to Google. As SearchEngineLand noted, Baidu holds 80 percent of the search market in China, and it would make sense for the Chinese to carry the same search on their mobile devices as they have on their desktop.

It is worth noting Apple’s Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is now in China to meet “Chinese officials.” He might be in talks with Baidu about moving the search option to iOS, and perhaps his presence suggests the two companies have come to an agreement?

Flurry Analytics recently noted that China surpassed the United States in Android and iOS activations for the first time, which makes the country the biggest smartphone market on the planet. Statcounter noted that Android, due to its lower prices, is flourishing in China a bit more than Apple’s iOS in units sold.

This article was cross-posted on 9to5Mac.

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