Dell discontinued its Streak 5 hybrid tablet, seen above, last November. The company is now leveraging its Baidu tie-in in the hope of re-entering the space in a meaningful way.

9to5Google yesterday reported that Baidu, the leading search engine in China, unveiled a brand new operating system dubbed Baidu Yi. Forked from Android and stripped of Google search and services (in much the same way the Amazon tablet‘s software is rumored to be), Baidu Yi aims to keep Google’s Android in China at bay. Following up, Reuters reported Tuesday that Baidu is partnering with Dell on tablets and phones that will run the new software. A Dell spokesperson told the news gathering organization:

We have a partnership with Baidu and you know we have the Streak 5 tablet, so the partnership will be in that space.

The first devices are expected to hit the marketplace early November. The surprising news comes at a time when the mobile industry flipped upside down.“It is really interesting to see Baidu forking its nemesis’ software and partnering with Dell here”, former Engadget editor Joshua Topolsky commented on Twitter. Computer maker Dell, which pulled its five-inch hybrid Streak 5 tablet last August due to poor reception, has some experience working with Chinese carriers and companies as their inaugural smartphone launched in China first. Evidently, both companies have their sights set on the recession-proof global mobile landscape and it’s easy to grasp why…

Digitimes Research estimated 2011 worldwide smartphone shipments at 462 million units, a 60 percent increase over the 288 million units shipped in 2010. Another Digitimes Research survey pegged tablet shipments for the 2011 calendar year at 65 million units, a 200 percent increase from last year. Currently, Apple’s iPad dominates the tablet space, while the Android-iOS duopoly holds onto approximately two-thirds platform share of the smartphone market. Baidu in January 2010 recorded a search-based advertising revenue share in China of about 63 percent versus Google’s 33 percent. Today, Baidu’s share of the country’s search market is nearing the eighty percent mark, the world’s largest. Baidu is the sixth most-visited site in the world, per Alexa, and number one in China.

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